Christina Abrenica passed away on October 12, 2017. Christina, married to Sheila’s brother (Lawrence), was 44 and had battled brain cancer for the past year.
There is no doubt that death at 44 is way too soon. But it’s comforting to know that her life was filled with the type of life milestones that many aspire to have.
She became a wife at 19; a mother at 20; a grandmother at 40; celebrated 25 years of marriage. In total she and Lawrence raised three children.
During the past few months, when her prognosis was bleak and her life was coming to a close, I scanned the memory book inside my head. I wondered what I would miss about her.
I struggled because I couldn’t pinpoint a single individual thing I was going to miss. And I realized that’s because her life, and the way she went about it, was not lived individually. It was one of selflessness.
The softball/baseball/football mom that rarely missed a game. The mom who made lunches and dropped notes into them. The Aunty who always had a hug and a kiss for her nieces and nephews.
I’ll miss seeing what she did for others and how good I could tell it made them feel.
In her final hours, she was surrounded -- in her home -- by her family (her parents, two sisters, her husband and three children). This gathering was nothing new as it mirrored several special moments that these same people assembled throughout the years for birthdays, holidays or just Sunday football game watching.
At one point, the sounds of soft cries was broken up as Lawrence asked if anyone had a funny story to tell.
This group has been gathering for more than two decades and there are of course funny stories to tell. In fact, not a gathering went by without a reflection on some high school shenanigans and adolescent anecdotes. So why would this moment, this final gathering with Christina, be any different?
Tears quickly turned to laughter. Quips were punctuated with barbs from her Sicilian dad. Her mom would chime in, correcting facts from incidents that happened 30 years ago. Her sisters talked over one another as they each had details to contribute of a particular story.
What was missing was Christina’s contributions. She always had additional details to make the story even more funny. But she also had an uncontrollable laugh, so intense it would go from audible to mute as she bent over literally crying herself laughing.
And while these gatherings and storytelling sessions will continue after today; they will be absent of that laugh and those additional details.
I’m really going to miss that too.