Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Death in the Family

While I was on hiatus, my aunt passed away. She was my mother's eldest sister, and she was also my godmother. For the first time in my life, I will experience a birthday without her well wishes. When I try to act as godmother to my own niece, I won't be able to ask my aunt for advice. When I post links to my published poetry on Facebook, she won't be the first one liking it or commenting on it. 

My instinct to call her has not faded away. If I dialed the phone, though, I'd hear an automated operator telling me the number has been disconnected. Under different circumstances, I'd be speaking with her right now to work through my grief, but I can't, because this time, she's the one who's gone.

Intellectually, this situation makes sense. Emotionally, everything is a jumble. There have been several occasions when I refrained from texting my mother to ask if this is really happening, because I already know the answer. 

A few days after she died, my aunt came to me in a dream. I don't remember now what that dream was about, but I do know that she was her usual cheerful self, not some shuffling corpse. It was comforting, in a way, to wake up after that dream, but also disorienting, since I knew I couldn't tell her about it. 

All of my disjointed thoughts about her flash through my head from time to time. It's fortunate that I was able to go home to see her a week before she passed, because it gave me a chance to say goodbye. But the problem, ultimately, is that there never is a goodbye. She's always going to be with me, if only in dreams or memories. At the same time, I'm damn lucky to have that much, and to have known her at all, so I try to keep that in mind.


PS My aunt died of complications from ovarian cancer. To reflect this, I have changed the text of today's post to teal, which is the awareness color for this type of cancer. For more information about ovarian cancer, visit the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, the Mayo Clinic, the American Cancer Society, or the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

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