It is often that I think of death, but not often that I like to speak of it (or in this case, write about it). Recently, my family was unfortunate enough to hear the news that my Aunt Lois was stricken with a cancerous, aggressive brain tumor. It took three weeks from the time we learned of the tumor until her death. The prognosis originally began hopeful and then quickly went downhill. We were told that she would have six months to a year to live and that turned into about two weeks.
I learned of her death on a Sunday afternoon and even though I had been preparing myself, for her passing it still felt like a shock. I had been praying for a miracle and had been having dreams that she recovered and lived a long life. It must have been my body telling me what I wanted to believe.
I know there was a specific plan for her and I know that there is a good reason why her life turned out the way it did. It was time for her to go, God was ready for her. That is sometimes hard to accept as a human and something I struggle with daily. It is always easy to say "God has a plan" and "God will take care of things," but it is hard to internalize when it hits home. I guess that all comes with the territory of being a spiritual human being devoted to God.
My heart goes out to my uncle and and kids (I use the term "kids" loosely as they are all 18 and above). I can not imagine the grief that they feel and how this will impact their lives. I keep reminding myself that there is a reason, a real reason why she was taken in her late 50's. I only hope that they can live with and accept this as well.
Tragedy is not new to my family as one of my other Aunt's died in her 40's, suddenly in 2003. She left behind a husband and four children. They were all under the age of 16. They have all seemed to adjust well to their new lives, but it was not without years of grief and mourning. All seven of them will be able to understand the loss of a parent at a young age. I am comforted by the thought that they all have each other. Now, I only hope they will use this to their advantage. This is my wish and prayer for them, that they grow closer because of the common experience of death.
The way I will cope with her death is to never allow the memory of my Aunt to fade. I will remember all of the happy times I shared with her. One of the things that stands out, and always has, was her laughter. She had a contagious and joyful laugh and I will always remember her humor.
I will also remember the many times I spent the night at her house as a child. My fondest memories include summer cookouts at their backyard picnic table. I remember running through the backyard, playing with my cousins as she watched us play. I remember watching evening movies on the couch in our pj's complete with popcorn and iced tea. I remember the many times we sat around the kitchen or dining table enjoying a hot cup of tea engaged in conversation. My Aunt loved hot tea, black tea with milk and sugar. Everything was discussed or debated over a hot cup of tea. It was the way her day began and ended.
I remember the many family dinners she hosted. Sometimes on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Hushing everyone so that we could say the blessing over the food or calling my grandma (Ma) to stop doing stuff in the kitchen and to sit down and eat. Afterward we all had dessert and of course, tea. She kept coffee on hand for those of us that prefer coffee with dessert.
My earliest memory of her was when she brought my cousin Nathan, her first child, home from the hospital right after Christmas. I was three-years-old (almost four). I remember her changing him and she allowed me to watch and to help. I was so excited because it was the first baby I had spent time with and he was my cousin.
I have literally hundreds of memories of her and I promise to keep them and cherish them as a reminder of what a wonderful person she was. She inspired many during her teaching career as a high school remedial reading teacher and then as a grade school teacher. She also shared her spiritual values when she taught Sunday school She was a wonderful and loving mother, sister, wife, Aunt, and Godmother. If I could say anything to her right now, I would thank her for being a part of my life and tell her how much I love her.
Good bye Aunt Lois. You will always be in my heart.