Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Minute 6"

Tomorrow marks the 4 year anniversary of Ginni's passing. Somehow, it only feels as though it was a couple of months ago. Around this time of year, I have a minor little meltdown. It still hurts. I know some wish I would get over myself, but that's not going to happen they way they expect it to. I have to do it my own way. Ginni was a major part of my life. There were days when Ginni was my backbone when I freaked out over insignificant dramas. And there were days when I held her up when she took her "5 minute cry." And I now use her "minute 6" tool to get through those meltdowns. Let me explain.

Ginni told me that I was allowed to mourn for 5 minutes...and on minute six, I needed to get over myself. It didn't matter how many 5 minute intervals I took...just as long as I took the sixth minute to look at the blessings that I do have.

Today started out particularly rough for me. Four years ago today, I rushed Ginni to Portsmouth Naval Hospital in a last ditch effort to save her life. When we're in situations where we have no control, we do unexplainable things in order to get the ball back in our court. People will stare and think we've totally lost our minds. Example, you're on an airplane and you're frightened. You don't go to sleep because you believe the pilot may need your help if there's a crisis. Yeah, that mentality. Funny, huh?

I took her to the hospital that day and told every medical professional there that we had to go back to National Institutes of Health for our stem cell trial because she was too weak for the surgery and will have to continue when she feels better. (NIH actually sent us home so she could be with her family on her last days.) I told them all that Ginni just needed to be hydrated or something. They humored me and they took her back to examine her. It wasn't long before I was paid a visit by several doctors to give me the devastating truth. One I knew already, but one I wasn't ready to accept. I had to let her go. At 1:50 am the following morning, she opened her eyes to heaven and then closed them for the last time.

Today, I'm thinking about the 5 minute rule, and on the sixth minute I count the blessings. I remember a week before Ginni died, we were visited by family and friends. Ginni was asked what she had done over the years that she hadn't seen these people. She said, "I got to travel to beautiful places in the world like Germany. I had three beautiful children. I went to college after I was diagnosed with breast cancer and got me a little degree...and worked in family law. I have done so much in my little life and I am grateful."

I think about that day and reflect on all the wonderful things that I have done in my "little" life too. If I were to leave this earth tomorrow, I would know that I too had done so many things in my own "little" life. I learned to scuba dive and dove shipwrecks in the graveyard of the Atlantic. I learned to ride a motorcycle and rode my bike to so many beautiful places. I've met so many people and celebrities...and some are still very good friends. I learned to dance for the local Dancing With Our Stars event and had so much fun, continued to take lessons. I gave my sister my stem cells. I got to be part of a clinical trial at National Institutes of Health. I got to be part of the healing process! I helped raise money for various cancer charities and have met so many wonderful survivors who benefit from the research...and their positive outlook on life had helped me become a stronger and better person. I have written two books to benefit the cause. I have FOUR gorgeous daughters and awesome grandchildren. A loving dog and cat who worship me whenever they see me.

So yes, If today were my last day on earth, I can honestly say that I've had a full little life. And for that, I am so grateful and blessed.

This post was my "minute 6." Thank you Ginni for leaving me with that tool to help me through the tough times. I love you.



amulbunny said...

Karen it seems like it was yesterday that we lost Ginni. I remember the chill that came over Gumbo as the news swept over the board. And then the love and overwhelming peace that came as we reminisced about how wonderful she was and how she was a fighter. You are a wonderful sister and we are keeping her memory alive every day.
Ann B.

Don said...

Dear Karen:
I don't know you, nor did I know Ginni, but that's one of the most touching stories that I've heard in many years. Thanks for having the courage to share this with others; and yes, in the future I will stop and count my blessings more often.
May God bless you and comfort you.


Anonymous said...

Oi, sou o Clausewitz e gostaria que você visitasse meu blog e conhecesse alguma coisa sobre o Brasil. Abração.

Anonymous said...


I lost my mother and father to cancer decades ago and the "minute 6" puts a new meaning to all the blessings I have counted since their passing.

We have spoken at many "roadshows" and the Relay for Life (I'm sure you don't remember on face in a crowd) but your dedication to your sister and the fight against cancer gives me strength to do all I can do to help in the cause.

God Bless You and all you do.