16 March 2013

lessons

I am still trying to process my night.

I had a lovely day. Woke up, skyped with my cutie husband, headed over to Ashley's. My great aunt has been visiting for a couple weeks, and she leaves tomorrow. She lives with my aunt in Phoenix, and she had flown in a few days ago to accompany my great aunt back home.

Turns out, my entire extended family was there, including uncles/ cousins I haven't seen in a while. I got to hold Calvin, hang out outside in the backyard on a beautiful day, and just had a really nice time.

I drove my aunt & great aunt home from the party back to Mom's house, and left after a bit to go run an errand and go home. When I hugged my great aunt goodbye, she held on for just a tad longer than I thought she would. When she held on for that extra second, it made me think of how this might be the last time that I see her. She's getting pretty old and it's feasible that she might die before another visit can happen. It made me not want to leave, but I left anyway. I ran my errand, then remembered that I left something at Mom's house, so I went back. I'm glad I did because I got to spend some extra time with her.

At any given point on any given night drinking with my aunts and uncles, the conversation turns to family members who have died. My cousin, my grandpa, etc. Rarely has it turned to my grandmother, who died of breast cancer when my dad was 4. That's always a little taboo. This great aunt is my grandmother's twin sister, and after she died, she basically raised my aunts & uncles. They all worship my great aunt, and for good reason. She's a pure, sweet, selfless lady.

I know it was tragic and it tore the family to pieces, but I never knew just how much none of them ever got over my grandmother's death. Talking about her still brought my aunt, uncle, and great aunt to tears. I've seen my aunt & uncle get emotional after a night of drinking, but I've never seen my sober great aunt cry and it was heart-wrenching.

What an amazing person she must have been, to have that effect on people 40+ years after her death. As my aunt put it, after she died it "took the shine out of life." They talked about how when my grandpa died, he said he was ready to die so that he could see Agnes again. (Yes, her name was Agnes.) Then, they all agreed that they were not afraid of death, because their mother (& twin sister) was waiting for them in heaven. I just sat there and listened to their memories and grief and tried to take it all in.

I don't want her to leave. I want to talk to her and hear her stories. I feel like I've taken her for granted all these years and I never really got to know her. I feel almost guilty about it. I feel like I've got a lot to learn from her, but her stories will go unheard simply because life goes on around her. Like she's a wasted soul because we don't pay attention to her. Still, she's an angel, like her sister is, and we're the ones who are missing out.

I do hope I get to see her again.

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