One of my heroes died yesterday. My Aunt Marie succumbed to having her body finally wear out. She had a problem with her blood that takes 50 or so years to make your lungs give out. For several years she had to have ice-cold transfusions every week to try to keep her lungs going as long as possible. Literally the day after she picked out her own grave the doctors told her that they finally had a donor match for her rare blood type. She had to decide in less than an hour whether or not to have a double lung transplant that might kill her that day or to wait the week or two for her own lungs to finally totally fail. She decided to go for it and lived through the operation. At the time of her transplant, people with double-lung transplants had a life expectancy of no more than 5 years. She made it for (I think) 7 years. In that time she got to see her younger daughter get married and get to cuddle and play with 5 grandchildren. Complications from the medications she was taking gave her serious stress fractures and she was in constant pain. A year or so ago her kidneys started to fail and she was told to prepare herself, but again, at the last minute a donor match was made and she underwent a kidney transplant. Unfortunately the kidney never started to function and the fluid build-up caused her heart to stop. She was re-started, but never regained consciousness. Yesterday my uncle and cousins decided to let her go and had the life-support removed. The doctors said she would probably only last a few minutes after pulling the plug. Fighter that she was, she continued under her own steam for two hours before her body finally couldn't do it anymore.
I am the oldest cousin on both sides of my family in my generation. When I was in the throes of awkward puberty Marie was the first of my relatives that started treating me like an adult. When you're 14 it's amazingly cool to be able to tell dirty jokes with your aunt.
Goodbye Marie, I'm going to miss you.