Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Power of a Life Well Lived: A Tribute to My Aunt Mary

Three months ago my Aunt Mary died. I cannot believe this earth has been without my feisty favorite for three months. I don't remember so constantly missing someone at any point.This time of grief has probably been one of the most difficult things I have ever faced. Louie Bodies took her memory, her understanding, her body...but never her soul, the person she was still shined in all she did.

To the end she wanted me to read her Bible out loud to her, she wasn't a fan of my "crazy hats," and she refused to "rob God" by not giving tithes...even at 80 years old, that woman had her priorities straight. And my favorite part? Even while she was dying, she ran her race well. I learned more from her in those last months than I have anyone else in my entire life.

I learned the value of time. I learned what it meant to be present in the moment because you never know what memories you make that you never want to forget.  And we dreamed and dreamed about bodies free of pain, mansions big enough to fit all of the people you loved, and we talked about the "Cloud of Witnesses" spoken of in Hebrews because I firmly believe she sees all of the things that would make her happy in my race even if she's cheering me on from heaven.

I learned about the value of touch. While her memory eroded, holding her hand brought a sense of the Holy Spirit I have never experienced in silence. Sometimes at the end of life, you realize words don't really matter, pictures don't do those moments justice - all that matters is that you are there with the people you love, holding them, and loving them for whatever time you are given.

I learned the power of living a life with no regrets. The last thing I said to her was "I love you. You can go to heaven now, I'll meet you there later. (I may have also promised to be feisty enough for the both of us :)." Since she passed, I make sure the last thing I say to my parents and D before leaving them (or any family member) is I love you.

I also learned just how much I LOVE being an aunt. I try to invest in B and EK the way she invested in me so that they will know that they are someone's favorite.

I cry a lot. I rock in her rocking chair and sometimes pretend like tomorrow I'll get to hold her hand all over again. I sing a lot of hymns. But I don't regret a thing. Losing her was the most painful thing for my heart, but even knowing the pain I know now, I would do it all again because loving her and learning from her was one of the greatest privileges I have ever been given.

Here's to my Aunt Mary. I miss her daily but the glitter she left is with me always. And she taught me lessons I will never forget.

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