I spent the night trying to keep the oxygen mask on my wonderful aunt Virginia until the early morning. She would pull it off every 7 minutes, then she would try to pull out her dialysis IVs next, and then her heart monitor lines. I would tell her, “Tia Cha Cha, if you want to go to Niagara Falls, you can’t keep pulling on things.” Like me, she is filled with wanderlust. She really wants to go to Niagara Falls and she spends a few weeks a year at our family ranch in Mexico. She is the oldest of 16 children on my dad’s side. Of all my nine aunts, we are the most alike. She is strong and feisty, did not get married until she was 35 years old, and has no children. She has a shoe fetish, and until she lost her sight, she was an avid reader. She taught me how to fight and how to love. Now, her kidneys have failed and my beloved Tia Cha Cha is in ICU and I am scared.
All night, I kept trying to keep her from pulling stuff out of her weak body and every time, she would give me the “evil eye,” as if I just took her favorite pair of shoes. It was like she was saying, “Enough!” And then I was thinking, “When is enough too much?” Sometimes we spend so much time trying to help others, guide them and give them what we think they need. But maybe that’s not what we are supposed to do. Maybe we should not offer any help unless they asked. Even though we watch them die in front of us–of kidney failure, heartbreak, obesity, whatever. As hard as it is to say, maybe my Tia Cha Cha doesn’t want to be here anymore, her wanderlust has really kicked in and she has more important places to go. Maybe she doesn’t want any more oxygen, maybe she is sick of dialysis, and maybe she just wants to be left alone so she can visit more exciting places like heaven or Mars, or her personal paradise.
After my time at the hospital, I realize that I can’t help anyone who doesn’t want help. And I have no right to try and force my beliefs onto to others. In other words, I can’t be a light on a hill for you, unless you are looking for light. My Tia Cha Cha? If she wants an “oxygen mask nazi,” she knows where to find me, but I think she has more interesting things to do and places to go.