Around the time I was 15 I started sneaking cigarettes here and there… by the time I was 17 I was a smoker. I continued down that path of smoking until I was 23 years old. In November of 2000 I quit smoking. It was the very end of November, after thanksgiving. I’d tried to quit several times before but to no avail. What was so different that time? What was it that set the scales in my favor? Could have been any number of things really… I’m sure it helped that Mike was a non smoker. The cost of cigarettes kept going up and I suppose I could have been feeling bad about wasting the money, but if I’m honest (which is what I like to be on this page) there was really one thing that allowed me to give up my lovely smokes… I wanted a child.
For the first time in my life I’d realized I wanted to be a mother. To have a family of my own. It didn’t seem right to me to be a smoker at that point and I didn’t trust myself to quit when I was pregnant. I decided I wanted to be cigarette free for a year before I got knocked up… I didn’t make it the year. I got pregnant 7 months after I quit smoking. My pregnancy and the months immediately following it are the only times I can recall not wanting to smoke. Even now nearly 9 years later I still think longingly of them from time to time. I’ll walk past the liquor store and see and add for Nat Shermans and recall how much I enjoyed them… But I’m strong and careful and I do not smoke. I lapsed at one point thinking I could smoke “socially” while I was at the bar with a friend. I can’t. I found myself wanting a cigarette after I dropped K off at school and realized that there was nothing social about that… I haven’t touched a cigarette since.
And good for me. There is absolutely no reason I should smoke and a million excellent reasons I shouldn’t.
One of those reasons is my Aunt Shelly. She’s been smoking for most of her life. Nothing life has dealt her has kept her away from her cigarettes. She’s in her early 50’s with major health problems, all of which link back to smoking. She needs a lung transplant (which she will never get and does not want).
She’s ill. She’s 100 pounds and 5’8″
Did I mention that 100 pounds is a grand improvement from the 90 pounds soaking wet she used to weigh.
I have no idea where I’m going with this post. I just… I need to vent. I need to tell. I need to not be the only one who knows that my auntie, an auntie I adore, is dying. I remember when K was just a little bit, 18 months old and already impossible… impossible to get to do anything, but getting her to nap the most impossible of all. Aunt Shelly visited. After spending a few days with us she laid down with K on her tiny toddler bed and got her to take a nap. It was her last day in town and I think she wanted some time alone with her… wanted to make a connection. I don’t know if she realizes how amazing it was that she got her to fall asleep that afternoon.
When K woke up we took Aunt Shelly and my mom out to an early dinner before heading to the airport to send her home.
That was the last time I saw my aunt.
I really don’t know where I’m going right now. Maybe this is a post to help me cope with what I fear is the inevitable. Maybe this is a wishing post. Maybe this is a hope post.
I think though it’s just a post filled with “I don’t know”.
I don’t know why she ever started smoking. I don’t know why she didn’t quit. I don’t know why it has to be so painful for her that just getting up to walk to her bathroom is exhausting. I don’t know why so many people have to be in so much pain.
I know that she inflicted it on herself with her years of smoking… My dad smoked for most of his life too… he managed to quit about 2 years ago.
No, it’s hope. I hope that whatever happens to my auntie, she’ll be okay… whatever that means for her. I hope that my dad quit smoking in time… I hope I never smoke again. I hope my daughter continues to think the smoking is horrible… that cigarettes kill…
I hope I don’t become one of those people that yells at every smoker I see…
I hope that you’re taking care of yourself…
Please forgive any typos… I don’t have it in me to read what I’ve just written.