This is a very short story life and death
| When I was eight months old, my first cousin Dana was born. We had a very close bond as children. We did everything together. We would spend the night with each other and laugh all night long. Sometimes we laughed so hard, we'd fall to the floor and pee on each other. I felt like she was the only real cousin I had, I guess because we were the same age. No, more than that she was my best friend. We shared some wonderful encounters. We did things all children do; we grew up together. From stealing a cigarette from her mom and smoking it behind the barn, to sitting on her doorstep with a salt shaker in one hand and a green onion in the other, snacking away, we were close. My boyfriend and I even took her and her boyfriend on their first date.
On her date, the four of us went to the state fair. We had first eaten at a Mexican restaurant. That was a mistake. On the last ride we intended to ride, there it went. Dana vomited on the "cup and saucer" ride and I mean she vomited on every person on that ride and anyone on the ground. On the way home, she and her date rode in the back seat. She had hoped he might kiss her goodnight at least. Instead, each time he slid close to her, she pushed him away just in time to vomit in the floor of my date's car. I don't think that '50 Ford ever smelled right again. Of course, I reminded her of that date for years to come.
We had tons of fun together. I never imagined anything could come between us. I was wrong. The rude interloper that implemented our separation would show its ugly face way too soon.
When we were fifteen, Dana was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. At the time, I wasn't aware of all the ramifications of this diagnosis. I learned quickly, however. For starters, I learned she would probably die at a young adult age, and her trust in God would be tested to unfathomable depths. I found that the close bond we had enjoyed would not survive much longer. To outsiders, I'm sure I seemed weak and smug, and didn't want to be slowed in the goings-on of my life. In actuality, I couldn't even watch her give herself a shot of insulin. How could I stick around to watch her die?
Dana's faith in God never faltered; not once did she complain about the pain she was forced to endure, or about anything at all. Her faith made me question mine. What did Dana gain by her conspicuous silence in deference to God's will? She was so amiable about the veracity of God. That amicability infuriated me. Why was she so complacent that she never questioned her plight? Why was she destined to suffer this immutable existence? My faith was left wanting. My faith was not real; my faith is still not real.
After Dana married, she so wanted to have babies. She knew she shouldn’t. Pregnancy for a woman with juvenile diabetes puts a horrible strain on her kidneys. However, She was elated when she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. I mean this was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. I talked to Dana when she was still in the hospital with her. She told me there was something wrong with Sam; that her chest looked funny when she breathed. I told her not to worry; newborns always looked strange. This was not to be the case.
Sam had a hole in her heart. They would do surgery when she got a little better, a little stronger.
Again, that was not to be the case. Samantha died when she was about two weeks old. I never, ever wanted to go to another funeral like that.
Dana kept trying for a child. She finally got her daughter, another beautiful girl, but at a high cost. Dana died at the age of thirty-nine. She only weighed about seventy pounds. She slipped away during a dialysis treatment.
Her daughter, Chris died tragically at the age of thirty-two leaving four children of her own. Hers was a senseless car accident. I did, after all, go to one more funeral like that.