and ironically, this time (to my knowledge) no doctors predicted it.
I just found out that my cousin, Nick Waters, died this morning. Y’all may know him from Christmas several years ago, when the docs thought he didn’t have long to live then. You see, that Christmas he wanted a Christmas Miracle – he wanted to get 10,000 Christmas cards. He wound up with more than 10x that number, and I heard stories that Christmas of so many mail bags full of cards that you could literally barely walk in his house – much less drive his motorized wheelchair.
Nick was always a very medically fragile child. I don’t know all the details, but I know he was born prematurely, with several birth defects. He’s had countless surgeries throughout his life, including at least a couple of open heart surgeries before he was three years old and later surgeries to implant steel rods along his spine to allow him to sit upright enough to breathe.
Nick was always the bright spot in family get togethers. His enthusiasm and optimism knew no bounds, even though he had probably experienced more pain in his life than most of us would ever wish on our worst enemies. Indeed, some of my fondest memories of hanging out at my grandfather’s farm growing up were playing with Nick.
Nick and his family had been told countless times throughout his life that he didn’t have much longer to live. Due to his birth defects, it was always a threat. If he had been born even 30 years prior, there is no doubt he would never have lasted anywhere NEAR as long as he did. As I noted above, apparently there were no doctors around this time. They finally figured out that Nick was stubborn enough to beat whatever length of time they gave him. 😀
But now he is gone. His pain is finally over. He died peacefully in his sleep, rather than in some ICU or on some operating table, two places he had gotten to know quite well in his life.
I’ve done so good about not crying at my grandmother’s funeral 3 years ago, or my aunt’s 2 years ago, despite the fact that I loved them deeply. I can barely hold back the tears enough to type this post though. Nick Waters was a source of encouragement and inspiration to all who knew him, and to me in particular.
Yet again, I have another trip to Canton to bury yet another family member. This was already old when it was my grandmother three years ago – she had been the fourth to go on that side of the family in under 3 years, with my grandfather, his twin brother, and her husband preceding her.
As hard as the others were, this one will by FAR be the hardest.
The day many in my family have dreaded for years has finally arrived.
It finally happened.