The title may suggest a somewhat spiritual monologue I’m about to begin. I am not.
I do want to discuss death but from a loved one’s standpoint. My aunt passed last week and often after someone I know dies I go through the usual sadness of mourning but I also go through the thought process of “being the living” and trying to add some positive spin on the whole event; how to carry on and exist after such a devastating but albeit natural occurrence. We are born and that guarantees a mortality, an end date and we signed the contract the moment we developed a heartbeat. Every moment we live- any memories is just collateral damage to those still living and have the burden of carrying until they go on to do the same thing, and so on.
Paying My Respects
Before I go further I should let you know more about the person who sparked the idea for this post.
My aunt Margo was a unique individual. She was very feminine and beautiful. She had a sense of style and a way of making things her own in originality. The creative arts would’ve been a perfect playground for career if she explored it more. My aunt Margo could talk to anyone and knew a little bit about everything. My earliest memories were of her when she and I were at the grocery store picking out candles for my 3rd birthday party. Margo was the youngest out of my grandmother’s three children and until she had her own children I felt she treated me as her own. Every Saturday she would come by and take me to the Amoco gas station near the house- we’d buy a newspaper and a few lollipops. There are countless memories I have of my aunt. Through life’s trials and tribulations I spent the majority of the time most recently praying for her and wishing her well from a distance. Anyone who knows the traps of addiction knows how tragedy can exist within beautiful, resilient but delicate spirits. Somehow though, irony can have a way of putting you in contact with someone you haven’t spoken to in over a year, less than 24 hours before time says ‘it’s over’ for that person. Somehow, I was made to be able to chat with my aunt Margo as if we had all the time in the world and things had not changed since I was that little girl in the grocery store.
Funny isn’t it?
It’s something, to sit here and think of all the things a recently deceased person could’ve done to extend their lives. I’m sitting here wishing she would’ve been more diligent about taking her blood pressure medication so that perhaps her brain stem wouldn’t have bled and perhaps my grandmother who lost her husband less than 2 years ago wouldn’t have the additional grief of having to bury her daughter. Perhaps my cousins would not have to shed the tears they’ve had to. Perhaps they could all be on the phone with my aunt right now instead of with others who are trying to express their condolences.
It’s all a matter of timing, I guess. One hundred years from now I suppose there would be very few remaining here from today. Instead, time replaces the face of the Earth at a rather consistent rate– our comings and goings, cycling as it has been since its controversial creation. Divine (by definition) or not (by opinion), it just is.
So I sit here, on occasion automatically reverting back to all of the memories I have in regards to the person I knew as Margo- trying to make sure her existence in what I know as my life does not become a waste- nor does it become some passing memory. It’s the only way I know to truly honor someone; making sure they don’t end up in the past only. Then I remember the things she taught me. Although I can never make for her another one of my famous omelets she used to like- I can certainly recall how she taught me to dance with my shoulders. I can show anyone who asks from now on. I can cook in that style like she used to. Her Italian beef would make anyone from the region smile and ask for seconds. Her fashion advice was always, “Add a different color, throw them off a little,” and is something I can easily do- every day from now on.
Slowly it begins to surface here: I can let my aunt live on through these simple but valuable, precious ways. How can a spirit not be pleased- the living carrying on some of the continued practices they had while alive? Somehow with more thought and some action- I can give my aunt life after her passing. I can give her honor, still.