Life is fragile. We all know it with our minds, but it doesn’t make our hearts hurt any less when we are faced with the ice cold reality of it.
As a little girl, I spent a lot, if not all, of my weekends at my Nana and Poppa’s house where my Aunt Tristan lived as well. Tristan was born with Down Syndrome and had the personality and IQ of a third grader (approximately). So to me, she was my friend. We spent hundreds upon hundreds of nights together staying up late, watching Full House and Xena Warrior Princess (her favorite), and “sneaking out” as she liked to call it (and by sneaking out, I mean we snuck out to the kitchen at 1am and got ice cream. It was risky, guys). Tristan had the same boyfriend for over 10 years and I heard about her dreams of getting married. I would sing and my mom would be her maid of honor. However, you could never consider your invitation definite because she would proudly un-invite you if she found any reason to be upset with you.
As I grew older, Tristan and I related less. I was in junior high school and I had friends now whose houses were much cooler to spend the night at. Tristan would still call me almost every Friday to ask if I wanted to spend the night. Sometimes I still did, but most of the time I declined and suggested she invite one of my younger sisters.
At 20, I moved into my Nana’s house. Tristan and I were both older and more set in our ways. I can’t count the times I would wake up with a handwritten note on my door saying, “Don’t touch Tristan’s cookie dough ice cream! Love, Tristan Borba” or the nights I’d lay awake listening to her talk to herself saying, “Rihanna is a B—-. Yeah she is. She’s a B—.” As frustrating as it was, it was still somewhat humorous and I have now taken on the nickname of “BS Rihanna.” Her favorite name for me when she would find that I had taken one of her diet cokes or touched her cookie dough ice cream.
She would entertain my friends and I for hours as she harassed us for not having boyfriends or not being married. She talked of how she broke up with her boyfriend of 12 years because he ate her lunch at work and she was mad. She was also extremely prophetic. She claimed she would see Jesus or angels. I’ll never forget that after my Uncle Neil died, she was the one in the family that had a dream where he appeared to her and told her to tell the family that he was ok and with Jesus. She was known for playing her Praise and Worship cd’s and singing along completely unaware of her lack of musical talent. Her simple outlook on life paired with her sense of humor and easily ignited temper made for good laughs, frustration, and overall just appreciation for who she was.
As the years went on, her health quickly declined. She no longer was the Aunty Tristan I grew up with. Some days she would call me by my sister’s name and some days she forgot who I was entirely. She seemed to be always tired and not as easily entertained. She would walk around the house frustrated because she was so confused and did not know why. Alzheimers and Dementia had begun to take over her entire body and we watched in silent despair as our Tristan began to disappear more and more each day.
It’s a really hard thing to watch. Someone you love slowly slipping away. I last saw her in early September and she couldn’t talk. She was strapped in a treatment facility, strapped to a wheel chair. I was warned that she most likely would not remember me. I tried to act untouched because even though her mind can’t see my reactions, I knew her spirit would sense it. After yelling my name to her a few times, I began to think that she had indeed forgotten who I was, but then she reached out her arms to hug me. That brief moment proved to me that somewhere in there, Tristan is still there.
It’s now been years that our family has been praying for a divine miracle in her body to take place. Now, I find that I am living glued to my phone, waiting to hear the latest update or afraid that I am going to miss an important phone call. It’s a helpless feeling, being so far away and feeling like I’m just watching from a distance.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 says, ” First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus.” Such a simple hope and reminder that this isn’t the end. Our earthly minds cannot fathom what may be ahead, but our spirits rest in the simple truth that there is so much more ahead. No, our hearts will not hurt less for even Jesus himself wept at the death of Lazarus, but we can at least celebrate the life and memories that will forever remain,
I ask those to who have praying to continue to pray. I know God is capable of mighty things. We are fighting for you, Tristan. We are fighting with everything we have.