Authentic Truths-“Grief”

My childhood was anything but smooth, but in the chaos, I had my aunts and cousins to make it normal. This past week one of my aunts went home. While we knew time was against us, there was nothing to prepare you for the moment or the time that follows.

Every time I went to visit over the last couple years, she looked at me and said, “Hello, baby girl.” And once again the chaos in my life turned to something normal. I was just a loved niece again.

I visited over Thanksgiving week. I spent a few days sitting quietly by her side, and for a few days got to help with her care. I lived with guilt that I couldn’t be there for my aunt through her cancer journey. I wished I could have helped my cousin and mom with everything.

When I had to leave, I dropped to my knees by her bed and started crying. I didn’t want to cry. I thought my tears had dried up long ago. She looked at me and said, “don’t cry baby girl, I’m sorry.” Because that’s who she is. And she rubbed my cheek and held me one last time.

I thanked her for loving me so well and loving my grandkids. Zaiden says he didn’t know her very well, but he knew she was amazing. He would be correct.

I drove a few hours in tears all the way to Springfield, Illinois. Leaving my aunt, mom, and family was painful when I knew what was coming and I hurt for each one.

After Thanksgiving, I drove back home and called my aunt to check on her. She got on the phone and said her grandson was coming to visit and she was so happy. Before hanging up she said, “I love you, baby girl.” That’s our last talk.

Grief is strange. You want to stay in bed, but suddenly find the energy to move. You find yourself crying throughout the day, right after laughing with someone at your desk. You cringe at holidays and parades, because it feels wrong. But stay with your commitment and watch the joy and excitement of your grandkids march a mile and a half and hand out candy canes. You’re filled with humble gratitude.

Grief is waking up at 2:41 am and checking your phone to make sure your mom didn’t call, then remembering she won’t need to call in the middle of the night. Grief is a sudden ping in your heart for your cousins and their household now changed without the presence of her mom and their nanny.

Grief is walking through every memory, and hurting and rejoicing they exist. I close my eyes and see her beautiful long blond hair, her smile. Or hearing her voice say, “Oh, Lisa” at something ding dong I did, then hearing her say, “you ding dong.”

It’s the gentle voice and kindness I cling to. I learned a long time ago that people often don’t know the impact they had on you. They don’t realize their love helped, and maybe saved you. The times I spent with my aunt Helene or my aunt Connie were priceless pieces of something far greater than gold. The laughter I shared with cousins was joy- childhood joy. I experienced joy and some days I forget that in the other memories.

I woke up crying today and wanted to write, so I did it here. Because I know grief is hard for everyone. It’s some invisible coaster of emotion and pain, longing and letting go. It’s so darn mixed up that functioning is a task with an unknown destination every day. For being so in control of my every move, right now each moment feels unpredictable.

It’s the pain that surfaces for a family I can’t hold our comfort that haunts me now. I’m sorry I can’t be there but I send my love and prayers all day long. I love you all so much and I hope you know.

♥️Lisa

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