I'm probably not going to be blogging much for a few days. My heart just isn't in it. As much as I want to continue with my challenges, post my pictures, participate in the memes that I love to be a part of and support, I hurt too much right now.
Yesterday afternoon, my mom called to tell me that my aunt, her oldest sister, had been moved to a higher level care facility hospital. She had double pneumonia and things weren't looking good. We needed a miracle to hope that she'd come home. This morning, I found out that a little after two this morning, she left this world. And, whenever I have a minute to think, I'm in tears. Not just for my own heart ache, but for that of my mother, my grandmother, my aunts and uncles, my cousins and their children.
Of all my aunts and uncles on my mom's side, Aunt Gail was the one I was closest to, in part because she was also one of my mom's best friends. When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time at Aunt Gail and Uncle Jerry's house. Sometimes it was because she was keeping an eye on my sister and I if my mom had an appointment. Sometimes it was because my mom was over visiting with her. Sometimes it would be because I had something happening after school and I'd go to her house to wait for Mom to come pick me up.
Aunt Gail was always such an open, honest woman. She would tell you what she thought, but she was never cruel about it. She was just... honest. She was there for my whole family, whenever we needed her support. As my mom has put it, she was the rock of the family. She was the one everyone went to when they felt like they couldn't go it alone. I remember sitting in her kitchen, talking with her sometimes when school was rough for me. When my mom and dad were divorcing, she was there for both of them. She was just always there.
Some of my fondest memories from childhood took place with her, and in her house. I remember her helping my mom and dad wash our new puppy, Shoe, in her downstairs bathroom. I remember her being nearby during my first shot at babysitting - watching her first grandchild, Blake. I remember sitting in her living room, watching cable TV (which we didn't have out at my house outside of town) while she chatted with my mom in the dining room. I remember her letting me pull old books from the bookshelves to read when I was in elementary school. I remember watching her fry zucchini and squash that came from her garden in the summer, and knowing that I wanted to learn how to do the same. I remember sitting at her kitchen table, playing Skip-Bo and Polish Rummy with her and my mom and having so much fun playing with them. Even now, about half the dreams that I have take place in her house, with her somewhere in the dream.
She hadn't been doing well for awhile. She'd been in and out of the hospital because of her lungs for the last several years. Every time, we were afraid that this would be the last time. But each time, she'd managed to pull through. But each time, she was a little weaker. The last time I saw her was a few years ago. We were up in NY, visiting my mom, and I made a point to stop by briefly and see her. I think it was the only time she actually met my boys. I wish I'd made the time when we were up this summer, though I believe she may have been in the hospital then. I just wish I had one more chance to tell her how much I loved her and how glad I was to have had her in my life.
As I said earlier, my heart breaks more for the other members of my family than it does for myself. My grandmother, even at almost 90, shouldn't have to bury one of her children. I know how devastating this has to be for her, though I haven't talked to her yet. I know that when I saw her this summer and Aunt Gail wasn't doing well, that the thought of losing her was breaking her heart then. For all that Aunt Gail was 10 years older than my mom, she was still my mom's best friend. She was the one that my mom talked to when things were rough. She's the one that would go walking with mom when she wanted to try to get in shape. When things were good, or when things were bad, I think Aunt Gail was one of the first people my mom called. I did speak with my mom this morning and, while she was holding it together, I could hear her tears inside. And I wanted to badly to be there with her so I could hold her and let her cry. Aunt Gail has four children and 10 (I think) grandchildren. And I know how close everyone of them was to her. And I want to be there for them, too.
For the longest time, I wanted to live further away from my family. I wanted to be away from the drama and the frustration that came from being close by. I wanted to live my life my way and be able to love my family from a physical distance. But right now - right now, I want to be there more than I've ever wanted to in my life. I want to be there for my family, be able to grieve with my family, to hug and be hugged as we all cry for our loss. Because, for all that I have my husband, my boys and my friends so close by (one of my best friends, Becca, talked me into getting out of the house this morning because she knew it was the best thing for me, and I love her for that), and for all that I'm getting the virtual hugs and condolences, it's not the same. My boys don't remember Aunt Gail. Rich has only met her once or twice. And my friends here in Tennessee have never met her. I can't laugh and cry over memories with them the same way I could with my mom or my sister, my grandmother or my cousins.
A part of me wants to yell and scream. I don't CARE that she'd lived a good life. I don't CARE that it means she's not hurting any more. I don't want her gone. I know that it's selfish, but I don't want my family hurting right now because she's not with us. I just want to be able to say good-bye one last time and know that she heard me. Because I don't know if I ever told her just how much I loved her and how much I appreciate her. And I can't stop crying because it hurts too much.
There's a part of me that likes to think she's not in heaven alone. My Aunt Cindy passed away a couple years ago, as did my step-mom. My grandfather left this world 20 years ago. I know there are others that I think she'd want waiting for her there. I know that the sorry and heartache I'm feeling now is more for me than for her - I think that she is in whatever her idea of heaven is, and she's not hurting any more. And I try to make that be enough to soothe my soul. But right now, it's not. It won't be for a little while.
So I'll be silent for a little while, i think. At least until I can stop feeling so selfish and can start thinking outside myself again. For the condolences that I know will be posted (because I know my readers, and you all have big hearts), thank you in advance. Even if you don't post the words, but just think them, I thank you. I just need a few days to finish letting my heart say good-bye.