So, I know it's been a good million years (okay, 24 days, but who's counting?) since I've updated, so I wish I could talk about something upbeat...buuuut, this is life, and sometimes life is sad.
My great aunt passed away on May 11. Her mind had been failing her for almost two years, and her body finally followed suit. She was 80 years old. She was my grandmother's older sister, a teacher, an aunt, a friend, and for 15 sweet years, a wife. Her husband, whom she met and married later in life, died of lung cancer in 1990. By the time her own health began to fail, she had lived more years without him than she'd had with him. With no children of her own, I think she was ready to go home and reclaim some of the time she'd lost.
Her death was not a surprise. Complications from surgery coupled with her lack of mental clarity accelerated her decline. The Thursday before Mother's Day I went to see her alone. She wasn't lucid, nor peaceful. In short, she was not the sweet, gentle, intelligent woman I had known. My mom and I went to see her again on Mother's Day. My mom, bless her heart, just couldn't handle it. She sat behind me and cried. I held Renee's hand, and stroked her hair, and told her goodbye. I told her how much I loved her, how much she means to me, and how I would see her again someday. I sang "Amazing Grace". This time, it was peaceful.
I sang the song again at her funeral. Though her passing was peaceful, and a blessing after far too long a struggle, it still hits me at the oddest moments. Thankfully, I have not been a person overly acquainted with death. The last person I lost that was close to me was my grandfather. I was ten. Now, enough memories have accumulated, and enough life experience gained for me to really grasp the fact that this person is, indeed, gone. Though her life was ending for 6 months, it still strikes me as unbelievable that I will never see her face again on this earth. I will never touch her or hear her laugh.
God, this is morbid, but I can still feel her cheek against mine when she'd hug and kiss me. I can picture her handwriting on the birthday cards she'd send.
And I wonder, did I give enough? The answer, so overwhelmingly sad, seems to be no. I think of all of the phone calls I didn't make, the conversations I cut short because I was bored. I think of how little of myself I would have had to give to make this person's days a little brighter. And then I think of how much more she had to give me. And I only thought to be there for her when her life was ending, and it was too late. I hope on some level, she knows I feel this way. I hope she knows that years from now, when I show my children, God willing, her pictures, I will do her justice then. I will take her knowledge and her gentle spirit with me, and she won't be forgotten. I hope the rest of my family does the same.
In some ways, I guess we can never really give those we love everything they deserve. There are simply not enough hours in the day for that. If it were up to me, I would tell every member of my family what they mean to me, daily. I would tell them how their very existence shapes mine. How I can close my eyes and see their faces, hear them laugh, and read their writing on a page. They could never know, really, how much that means to me, but as long as I (and they) draw breath, it's my job to show them in every way that I can.
Rest in Peace Renee, we love you. Give Lee our love, and my Grandpa John a kiss. See you when we get there.
5 days ago