If anyone has ever known the depths of my heart, it was my Aunt Trisha. She was my mother’s sister, but she was a mother to me.
In her early childhood, Trisha developed a rare bone disease and was told she wouldn’t live to see ten years old. Boy, did she prove them wrong. She was full of spunk and liked doing that.
Her house was my home. I spent more time there growing up than I did in my own house. She gave me a soft, safe place to land.
During my teenage years, a lot of our time spent together was in the hospital. She fell a few times, and her disease got progressively worse. She broke her neck twice and had too many surgeries to count. Her fragile body was in constant pain, but not her spirit. No, siree. Her spirit was a radiant fire of love that passionately poured out healing on everyone she encountered.
I remember a time after one of the surgeries where the doctor had warned us that there was a strong chance she wouldn’t make it. She was in the intensive care unit of the hospital with very limited visitation.
From the moment I stepped out of the car in the parking lot that day, I lost it. My heart could feel her heart suffering. Up the concrete stairs and through the front door I went, my finger pushed the elevator button, I stepped inside and the doors closed behind me. I remember feeling so very cold – petrified – that this would be goodbye, and my tender heart just wasn’t ready for that.
I also wasn’t ready for the scene in the ICU. While I was used to seeing Trisha hooked up to machines, in pain, and swollen from surgery, this time was different. I could barely recognize her body.
A few hours later, she started waking up. She was intubated, and from the way she was looking and flailing around it was obvious that she wanted to tell us something VERY important. My other aunt grabbed a pad of paper and pen from the table, put the pen in Trisha’s hand, and held the paper steady.
Trisha calmed herself and glared intently at the paper. She was hooked up to every machine and contraption imaginable. This would not be easy, but she was obviously ready for the task.
Slowly, she began to write out letters:
This sent everyone into a frenzy. “Pain???? Are you in pain, honey? Get the nurse, she needs more morphine.”
Trisha waited, pen in air, for the pad to return.
Whew, ok. At least now we knew it wasn’t pain.
Her right hand was shaking terribly and she lifted her left one to steady it.
Her brows furrowed in concentration as she wrote out the last letter with one swift stroke.
Trisha’s hands collapsed in exhaustion against her bed, a smile slowly spreading from ear to ear. Her mission was complete.
Trisha wanted a Pepsi.
To be exact, she wanted an “ice cold Pepsi” – her favorite drink that she savored multiple times a day. Straight out of the cold can, sipped slowly from a bendy straw.
She was so well associated with this drink of choice that the delivery people who came to her house knew that they would not be able to leave unless they agreed to an “ice cold pepsi” upon departure. The family members who visited Trisha could count on an “ice cold pepsi” immediately upon arrival. The nurses and doctors on Trisha’s floor were openly invited to help themselves anytime and pop open an “ice cold pepsi” from the giant cooler in Trisha’s room.
Trisha believed in the magical healing of this smooth elixir.
Trisha recovered and lived to the age of 57 – 47 years longer than her original doctors predicted.
Amidst all of the blessings of my life, and there are many, Trisha was the most powerful. She transfused her love into the fabric of me, and into every single thing I do.
Now, whenever I am missing Trisha so much it physically hurts, all I need to do is to get myself an ice cold pepsi and, somehow, that makes everything alright.