This past Wednesday I experienced something I had hoped would not happen for at least another ten years, when I would be in my mid 40’s. An aunt whom I was close to, who was like a second mother to me passed away suddenly. Late last week she was hospitalized to have a procedure done to open up her arteries though the doctors had said it would be risky as her arteries were 99% blocked. In fact, this past summer when I was in TX visiting and having a family vacation she told me they were clogged yet the doctor had not done anything yet.
So when she was in the hospital this past week she had a mini stroke and on Monday afternoon after having started the procedure to open the arteries up she had a massive stroke. Part of the plaque had broken away causing major brain damage resulting in eventual death.
Once I found out the situation I wanted to get there as soon as possible to say my goodbyes. But, that did not happen.
The earliest flight I could get was about eight hours after she passed away. I had no idea though that she had passed on until I arrived at the airport in Houston. I had to also wait to break the news to my dad about an hour later. In the meantime I was sad, in fact, I was devastated.
It has been four days since she passed away and life is still numb. Being in TX was a fog because I kept thinking I need to call my aunt to tell her I was there until I came back to reality briefly knowing she was the reason I was there.
I dreaded visitation. I had told some of my family members I wasn’t ready for this. I broke down on shoulders of family. It hurt so bad and still does. My aunt meant so much to me. She and my uncle raised my brother and I early in our childhood after their three children were grown. They had done so much for us and even put up with our childhood issues even into teenage years. All I could remember were the things my aunt had done for me. Making the pallets to sleep on at night, her tucking me in, sitting and talking to me, cuddling next to her while watching tv in the evenings. She would make my baths, wash my hair while I laid on the counter in the kitchen. She would mark my height on the post on the back porch. When I graduated from high school in TN she came up with my dad, granny and brother. Before my first daughter was born she bought the baby bed which I still have.
It helped to talk to certain people though. My cousin Tony who has always been known as the tough person was breaking down crying. After hugging him he told me that she treated me as if I was one of her own. That meant so much to me. I finally toughened myself up to go to my Uncle who had a stroke about a year ago and thanked him and Aunt Marie for taking care of me, raising me. It was touching when he smiled and said I Love You.
I finally with the help of my cousin Tony’s wife Wanda, who used to live behind my Aunt and Uncle many years ago went to my Aunts casket and just broke down and cried. I touched my Aunt’s wrist and hand brushing my hand across. I didn’t want to say goodbye.
The day of her visitation had froze about five feet from her casket. I turned around and sat on the first pew and just poured my eyes out. I seen some of my aunts friends and spent time with other people before mustering up enough strength to pay my respects.
The next day after her funeral everyone got to say one last goodbye. I went up and poured my eyes out again. It hurt enough to watch my uncle break down and cry.
I kept telling myself I shouldn’t be here. I should be at home spending time with my kids and instead I am forced to do something I didn’t ask or want to do.
In the funeral procession there had to have been about 150-200 vehicles. We passed by the West Galveston County precinct building where voting was taking place. My aunt was involved with working the elections until this last time. As we went by there were three women who had worked with her who were crying and waving at everyone as they passed by. It was very touching.
The cemetery service was very brief yet it hit me very hard when the pastor of her church, St. John’s Lutheran had picked up some of the dirt and spread it out saying ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Those things really sealed everything.
Though the tears continue to flow, I still have periods of time when I am content or angry about it all. Today I headed back home to TN. Just as the plane left the ground the tears flowed a little more. I still had times I would just randomly cry when something would remind me of my aunt.
I tried walking in my best friends woods only to see the beauty of the fall and break down. I know the tears will continue to flow which is ok. I know I will have times I will be angry and that is ok. I know it will take time to recover which is totally up to me. I have to allow myself to go through the grieving process on my own.