My Aunt Linda died a little over seven years ago. If I’m being honest though, the version of her I like to remember was gone before that – struck down by an aneurysm.
I remember first her smile, followed by her laugh – she had such a great laugh; warm and enveloping. I remember her little house at the bottom of a hill in my hometown. I remember that she was the most stern of my aunts, I remember how much I loved her in spite of that :)
In the time since she’s been gone I’ve not thought often of her – and as I was sitting in the passenger seat of my car last week, it was like my brain turned on and asked if I were ready. I wasn’t. I’m not.
The aneurysm sent my aunt to a nursing home. It took away so much from her, from our family. That aneurysm? It is an asshole. I remember visiting her at the nursing home and having to leave the room to weep in the hallway even though I’d been warned. When I went back in the room, I gave her my best smile and stroked her hand.
I think that really, my heart would not allow my brain to remember her that way and so I tucked it away until the feelings rushed up and the tears in the car blindsided me.
So, as my husband drove and I tried to gather myself, I did the only thing I could think of – I called my mom. My Mom who keeps a photo of her sister on her dining table and regularly talks to her. In one sense I felt guilty for heaping my grief on my mother but also, so comforted because my aunts all share a love for one another that is inspiring.
Grief is a strange creature and you really don’t ever know when and where it will catch up with you. And really, when you lose someone the way we lost my aunt – it feels like two deaths, which is so horribly unfair.
Still, I’m comforted in the goodness of the woman I remember. When my family gathers and stories get told, I’m happy because she is there. I’m not sure where my grief goes from here, if anywhere. I just wanted to put my thoughts into words so that instead of suppressing, I allow all of the good, and there is so much, to be the thing I remember.