Today is (still) June 30. It's on this day 20 years ago that my sister Karen finally died. She had been deeply comatose for 19 months, the result of a combination of diabetic complications of pregnancy, preeclampsia, and a c-section that went wrong when general anesthesia was attempted. My niece was delivered at 32 weeks. She was in the NICU for a month and went on to develop beautifully into the person she is now.
The timing of her death raised complications. There was a lawsuit pending, and this necessitated an autopsy. Between the weekend and the fourth of July holiday her body would not be released to us for several days. So we had to wait until July 5 for her funeral. My father's younger brother found himself playing host to an onslaught of people for many hot southern California days: my parents, my two brothers and I, Karen's husband and daughter, my dad's parents, and my dad's younger sister with her husband and their three daughters, my cousins. The house was really too small to accommodate 14 guests, and my uncle's job was selling RV's, so he parked one on the street in front of his house.
I can fault my family for many things, but we were so very good to each other then, in a time where the strain of waiting could easily have caused flares. I'm very proud of us, how we took care of each other. We rose to the occasion and were able to give the best of our selves.
When I visit my niece in southern Calif my parents are usually there too. We go to the cemetery to visit my sister's grave. It's very bittersweet to see someone so young so at home and at ease in a cemetery. She immediately sets herself to pulling any weeds that have encroached on the marker, casually asks if we mind if she goes and visits some of the other 'residents' with whom she's on a first name basis.