When someone dies, the first thing we think is, "I should have called her more. I should have made more of an effort." It seems like such a cliche when we say, "Life is short. Don't take anything or anyone for granted." But, you know, it's mostly true. I had talked to my aunt a few months ago, but now I wish I had called her more recently. I certainly thought about it, but it was always at a weird time . . . such as 5:00 a.m. Plus, my aunt was a talker (and I mean that it a good way). You had to set aside a good chunk of time.
Her death was sudden. She fell in the bathroom (at her home in Tennessee), hitting her head and dying almost instantly. There is some small mercy, I think, in passing quickly. I'd hate to think of her lying in a vegetative state after a brain injury. Aunt Marlene was a very spiritual person. My cousin RJ (the fifth of my aunt's six children) died late last year of asthma. Although my aunt was devastated, she also spoke of a continued link to him. I do not think she was afraid to cross over - the "other side" was not something that made her fearful.
When I last spoke to her, I was in the car, driving my foster dog to a new home. She sounded so happy to hear from me - I honestly can't think of any other time in my life when someone sounded so joyous just because I'd called. We had a nice, long talk. It was nice to hear that laugh again. The inflection of her voice was a bit like my mom's voice. My mom is grieving terribly, of course. She and her sister were more alike than either of them seemed to realize, and while they weren't always on the best terms over the years, they loved each other very much. I have no doubt that when my aunt died, she knew that she was loved by all of us who knew her.
I don't know what my aunt's natural hair color was because I only knew her as a fiery redhead. To me she always seemed glamorous and larger-than-life. So, that is how I will remember her. Feisty, funny, beautiful (and chatty!)
My aunt's death has caused me to think a lot about other relationships in my life. In my family (the family I came from, not the one I live with now), a long-held secret recently came to light. I can't air my family's dirty laundry here but I will just say my spirit of love and acceptance is being tested in so many ways. Relationships are fragile. Hold onto them whenever you can.
|Aunt Marlene, Mom, and Cousin Andrea at my wedding reception. For weeks beforehand, the three of them had threatened to embarrass me by singing. And so they did.|