Five Saturdays ago, I got a call from my Aunt D, who told me that my Aunt C was in the hospital. Things were very serious, but the doctor had some encouraging things to say, so it was possible that she might end up being okay. The plan was to let Aunt C rest on Sunday with minimal visitors and await test results that were expected to be ready on Wednesday.
I got off the phone feeling concerned, but hopeful. I figured I'd head down to visit her at the hospital early in the week. I hoped that the test results would be helpful and that whatever was wrong with her would turn out to be manageable.
But by Sunday night, her condition had worsened considerably. Her organs were shutting down and she was put in a medically-induced coma.
On Monday morning, I left work two hours into my shift and drove down to the hospital where I waited in the room with other family members until the end.
I was there when they unhooked the machines that were keeping her (technically) alive. I was there when the numbers on the monitors dropped down to zero. I was there when she was pronounced dead. I was there, crying with and hugging everyone until we could all collect ourselves and leave.
I got a one-week extension on my deadline with Simon & Schuster, worked Tuesday through Thursday at the office, and then spent Thursday through Saturday with my family. I did small things to help them prepare for the memorial. I attended said memorial and the reception afterward. I drove home, slept, and got up Sunday morning to get back to work on finishing my book.
There is no way that I can question whether my aunt is truly gone because I was there when it happened. For some reason, though, my mind keeps reverting back to five Saturdays ago: I'll head down and visit her at the hospital early in the week. I'll wait for the test results that will be ready on Wednesday.