My brother saw this day coming many years ago. Our mom and dad's family are aging and his prediction was we could lose a lot of our family in a (seemingly) short time. The time has arrived.
My mom and I stopped to visit her sister last week. Her sister has been in the hospital for (over) three and a half months. We have been expecting 'the worst' for most of that time. But time and time again, she rallied back and surprised us. But as I wrote to my brother after our visit with my aunt last week, I said "... in my humble opinion, it looks like she may be all out of surprises."
She took her last breath yesterday morning.
It is very hard to watch someone struggle to live when you are used to seeing them vital and happy. I am grateful that I knew my aunt as well as I did, which is in a great part due to 'collecting memories' for my mom's family (almost) seven years ago.
I went to my aunt's home and she arranged to have another aunt meet us there, along with her daughter. Oh, the memories of that day. We laughed and we laughed. Then we laughed some more.
I (personally) believe that my aunt married into the right family. Her husband has a twinkle in his eye, joy in his heart and laughter in his voice. Each and every time I get together with my cousins in this family the memories are filled with laughter. They have so many memories seasoned with humor.
My closest-cousin (we feel more like sisters) is from this family. The last few times that I have gotten together with this cousin, she has always said "Let's invite Mom and Dad along with us!" or "Let's stop by and see Mom and Dad while we are there!" She naturally included her parents in our plans. So I have the bonus of those extra memories to add to my arsenal.
I can only imagine the memories her parents accumulated because of the inclusive and giving nature of their family. In fact, this weekend they were already planning a reunion on their parent's farm. My aunt would not have been able to join them because she was in such a weakened state. It is my hope that she can join them 'in spirit' and everyone can fall back and remember her when she was healthy and full of life instead of the way I last saw her.
When all is said and done, what we leave behind is our memories. My aunt was a part of oh-so-many joyous and fun-filled gatherings. Her life was focused on family and faith. She was surrounded by both throughout her last days.
When your health fails you, faith, family and community can carry you and your loved ones through the darkest of days. May you be smiling down upon those who are missing you and filled with a lightness of spirit which will fill the hearts of those you loved.
You will be missed.