My mom has two older sisters – Kathy is the oldest and Terry is next. The three of them are hilarious together. Their relationship always made me wish I had a sister.

my mom, Terry, and Kathy at my wedding shower

We grew up hearing about the adventures the three of them (and their brothers Tim and Tommy) had, getting into trouble, making each other eat grass, bringing home everything from ducks to turtles to dogs.

the kids l to r Terry, Tommy, Linda, Tim, Kathy

As they’ve grown, they’re still crazy:

Aunt Kathy, Aunt Terry, & Grandma / Hippie, Cat Burgler, & Tourist

I am so lucky to have such fun, wonderful aunts.

The Nieces and The Aunts
Cousin Leah, Aunt Kathy, me, my mom, Aunt Terry, and Aunt Lynn (my dad’s sister)

My Aunt Kathy is an English professor, and I always think of her when I write. Not that she would ever email me to correct my grammar or syntax, but I didn’t ever want to give her a reason to. She helped my brother and me immensely when we were writing our college entrance essays. When I was an undergrad, I took a critical studies film class (her other area of expertise) and I never would have made it through that class without her.

Kathy and my Uncle Bill met when they were twenty years old, and have been married since 1969.

Kathy and Bill
dancing at my wedding

Last week, Kathy was grading papers and preparing her students’ final grades when my uncle noticed she was having a hard time concentrating. Then, he suddenly realized she couldn’t speak. He rushed her to the hospital, where scans showed she had a four centimeter tumor, a two centimeter tumor, and a lesion in her brain.

My mom, Annabel, and I spent yesterday in San Diego, where my aunt and uncle live. I accompanied them to a neurology appointment, where the news was completely different than we were expecting – instead of hearing about brain tumor treatments, the doctor told us the tumors were caused by lung cancer. The cancer in her lungs metastasized in her brain. She hasn’t smoked a single cigarette in her whole life.

Brain surgery is not an option, because the tumors are on both sides of her brain, and the neurologist thinks there could be more that aren’t big enough to show in scans. Today, my aunt, uncle, and other aunt will go to the oncologist to decide on how to proceed.

Every day Madeline was in the NICU, Kathy sent me a card to read to Maddie. They were all different. Sometimes she’d cheer Maddie’s recent improvements, other times she would tell a story about my grandmother. Every day, she thought about us. After Maddie died, she and Bill came right up, and she gave me another card that I keep in my bedside table, so precious the words in it are to me.

It’s hard to wrap my mind around this…I feel like we all can’t catch our breath before it’s something else.  One thing I know is we will be there for my aunt and uncle, just as they have been here for Mike and me.