The Last Days
I had not seen Becky for a couple of weeks. She was very sick and my parents didn't want my brother and myself to see her because of her appearance. Becky had become very weak and her physical condition had deteriorated dramatically. We had several relatives who lived near the hospital and we were going to stay with them for a few days so we could be near Becky in these last days. Becky was near death and now it was just a matter of time.
When I got to the hospital, I had the chance to see my sister one last time. Most of my relatives were at the hospital and there was a feeling in the air that it was almost all over. When I walked into my sister's hospital room I was overwhelmed with emotions. They had stopped all medical treatment except for an I.V. full of morphine or some kind of potent painkiller. Becky's eyes were black and blue and swollen shut. She was completely bald and huge open sores covered her face and body.
But as I looked at her through my tear filled eyes, her sores were faded and blurred and I could only see her spirit shinning through. I held her hand and told her how much I loved her. I wish I could remember the exact words we spoke to each other at that moment, but I do remember that she comforted me. She was ready for whatever God had in store for her. When I spoke to my sister that last time it was as if we were alone in the room and at the same time, I had hope that the hospital room was crowded with the spirits/angels waiting to escort Becky to her next life.
My brother, Michael, visited with Becky next and then we left the hospital. My Uncle Tom drove my brother and I to his mother's house where we would spend the night. When we arrived at grandma Pipkin's house I started to feel uneasy and restless. I knew in my heart that Becky probably only had a few minutes of life left in her and I knew I needed to be near her. I talked my Uncle Tom into driving me back to the hospital. As we walked from the parking lot to the entrance of the hospital, I could see a limousine parked in the waiting zone. Instinctively, I knew the limousine belonged to Carol Burnett.
I immediately went to the waiting area where Becky's room was. My Aunt Marylin was in a small smoking lounge and I went in to talk to her. I asked her if Carol Burnett was here. She didn't answer me. I asked her if Becky was okay. No response again. Then my mother and father walked in and told me that Becky had just died. We all embraced and just cried and cried. All the pain and suffering my sister had to endure was gone. No more pain. Thank God.
My parents explained to me that I just missed Carol Burnett. Just minutes after I left, Carol arrived at the hospital, greeted my parents and family and then was invited into Becky's room where she comforted my sister in her last few minutes of life. Carol Burnett had given Becky a tape recorder with a tape of her and Vickie Lawrence singing nursery rhymes from rehearsals for the Carol Burnett Show. Vickie Lawrence was a co-star on Carol Burnett’s TV show and was pregnant at the time. As Carol played the tape recording she began to sing along with it. Cradling my sister's hand and singing along to the nursery rhymes and lullabies recorded on the tape, Becky slowly slipped from this life to the next.
My parents watched as this special friendship between Becky and Carol Burnett came to an early end. After all the tragedy and chaos that had engulfed our family for so long, it was all over just like that. Carol Burnett had gone out of her way and beyond the call of duty to help make Becky's final moments peaceful and beautiful. There was no way anyone could know how much this meant to me. I had prayed so hard for so long for God to help my sister. I prayed to God with all my heart to take away her pain and to end her suffering. I could never imagine or hope for something so special. It was a touching end to a horrible situation. It was also my Grandfather Lance's Birthday.
After Becky died, Carol Burnett silently slipped out of the hospital to return to the studio where her show was taped. The next few days were full of grief, tears and much needed relief. Of course I would miss my sister and I was sad, but it was such a relief to know that she wasn't in pain anymore. Almost immediately, it was like I could breath again. I had been carrying a heavy load of anger, guilt and confusion for a long time at a very defining age and I was trapped between mature compassion and selfish innocence. I wanted my sisters suffering to end but at the same time, I wanted my suffering to end as well. My pain could never compare to the pain my sister had to endure, but I hurt nonetheless.
The funeral was very difficult and just a disaster. It was a Mormon service filled with scriptures, prayer and music. The Hearst family sang several church hymns and I know Becky could not have been happy about that. The Hearst family would occasionally sing at church services and the sound that came out of their mouths was coarse and irritating. Becky and I would cringe and snicker whenever they would sing and it seemed really inappropriate for them to be part of the funeral service. Mrs. Hearst was also the person who told my father that she had been cured from cancer by drinking carrot juice. This was my first funeral and this was also the worst day of my life. Everything was so brutally final that this experience just crushed my soul. After the funeral service we went to the cemetary and then I saw something that touched my heart. Carol Burnett had sent an enormous stand up floral display of white roses.
The Carol Burnett Show taped their shows several weeks in advance so it was a few weeks later when the episode containing the musical number with Carol Burnett and Vickie Lawrence singing nursery rhymes and lullabies aired. Usually I would tear up from laughter while watching the Carol Burnett Show, but this time it was tears of joy and sorrow. At the end of her show, when Carol pulled on her ear, there was a special message for my sister. Yet another example of the generosity Carol Burnett showed my sister and my family. As I am writing my story currently, it occurred to me that I never had a conversation with my father about how he felt when Carol Burnett arrived at the hospital. I can only hope that he could see that something special and wonderful was happening.
There was an added tragedy to this situation; my parents were still separated. I still had not given up hope that my parents would get back together again. The reality though was that my mother was living with a man named Don and my father was beginning to date women from church. As soon as my parents divorce became legal, my father started to go to church functions and socials in hopes of meeting a nice Mormon girl. Eventually, my father met a woman named, Karen and they began to date and fall in love.
As tragic as this was for my family and myself I knew that God had heard my prayers. I knew that Carol Burnett coming into my sisters last days was a sign or at least a special gift. I also knew that Becky passing away on my Grandfather Lance's birthday was a sign. For some reason though it all felt unfinished. My almost constant prayers became even more intense and passionate. I had to know...WHY?!