Love & Loss
The memories come flooding back. It’s been over 20 years, yet right now, it feels as though I am that 14 year old terrified little girl again.
A family friend comes to the door, she simply tells me there has been a car accident.
Hours later, I see my Dad, lying in a hospital bed bruised and broken. He tells me that my mom and sister are dead and he doesn’t know if my brother will survive.
Our family friends wrap me in their love and safety of their home until my Aunt and Uncle arrived from out of the County.
I don’t actually remember my Aunt and Uncle arriving after the car accident, everything was a blur. But what I do remember is a shift in my world once they arrived, the undeniable feeling of being truly loved and taken care of. Knowing they would always be there for me. My dear Aunt, wrapped me in her love, she stepped into my life in a whole new way, unlike anyone else. When I didn’t even know how to function in my new reality, my Aunt gave me the confidence to know that she would make sure I’d survive this, she would be my protector, she would be my supporter, and my champion. She would help me see my path through the grief. She knew she could never replace my mom or my sister or the family I once knew, but she did the things a mom does to help a young girl navigate becoming a young woman, but she didn’t stop there. She clearly knew that she had to help me emotionally and she would do everything in her power to carry me through. And, I think her way of doing that was to make sure I felt her love, as my entire life fell apart around me. When she was unavailable, she recruited her sister, to be my auntie too, and she love me just like her own nephews and nieces. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was building me a village of support and love.
From across the continent, there were days I swear she literally kept me alive. She pushed me to keep going, to keep living, to make good ‘teenage’ choices, and to keep being a good person to honour my mom and sister with my actions. She did all of this while raising 3, then 4 kids and then 5 kids of her own. She brought me into her family, and reminded me of what a family is – loving each other and supporting each other and always being there for each other.
Without knowing it at the time, she showed me how to create my own family, and how to find my way to my own son through adoption.
She inspired me as a teenager and a young woman, and now as a mom. She will always inspire me to be the best person I can possibly be.
I said my goodbyes, knowing that I’d never see her alive again. My heart is heavy. She’s too young. She’s too amazing. She has so much more love to give to this world. It simply shouldn’t be her. I want her kids to have more time with their mom, because it doesn’t matter how old you are, you always need your mom. I want my Uncle to have more time with the love of his life. I want more time with my second-mom. And maybe even more selfishly, I want my son to have more time with her too. But, as I know all too well, life isn’t fair.
Yet, leaving her house, a house that has always been a welcoming, safe and loving home, I couldn’t help but smile through the tears. Thinking about how she has lived the most beautiful life and that she while her time left here may be too short, her impact isn’t done. She has inspired everyone who has been fortunate enough to know her and so I know, without even trying, every single person who ever met her, will move forward spreading her love throughout the world.
As my tears continue to fall, I realized that she also showed me how to survive her death, a cruel and unfair twist in life. She showed me how to be there for her kids, my uncle and everyone who she loved and loved her. She taught me that no matter how horrible life feels when someone we love dies, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to get angry, and it’s okay to be sad. But she also taught me that we have to find a way to live with our new reality. And, eventually, when I have to start to figure out how to live without my Aunt at by side but instead in my heart, I need to keep love and compassion at the forefront.
I am confident that focusing on going forward with love and compassion is what my Aunt would want and so between the tears and the heartache, that’s what I will be doing for the rest of my life.
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