Have you ever lost someone you truly love?
I have. This week actually. It’s funny how two sentences can change things in a split second.
Last Saturday, my husband, Little Bit, and I were on our way to buy a new truck when I got the news that my aunt had unexpectedly passed away.
My hand instantly went to my mouth accompanied by a verbal, “Oh my God.” Somehow I got through the truck paperwork without my tears flooding the desk. Since then I’ve been stuck in the sea of disbelief.
For days I have been racking my brain, trying to think of something perfect to say about her, just something perfect to sum up what she means to me. Nothing but heartache has spilled onto my paper.
Somehow I’ve got it stuck in my head that whatever I write must be grand in scale. I keep going back to the story I wrote in December when grandma Wilma passed away.
That story was read by the minister during grandma’s funeral and I think that because my aunt was there and heard it, I feel like I owe my aunt her own story.
But, what I’ve discovered is, she IS that story. Who she was and the way she lived her life is embedded in those words. Her name fits right in between grandma Irene’s, Esther’s and Irene’s. She belongs there. She wore Iowa well, too.
Another thing I’m learning this week is that there’s no such thing as perfect when it comes to heart matters. If you picture your life as a great big heart, it’s easy to see that things don’t squeeze into it perfectly. Life isn’t perfect. It’s flawed and messy and amazing all in one breath.
When I think of my aunt, I see a giant heart next to an empty box of assorted crayons. Instead of the crayons being neatly in their places, they’re scattered on the table, paper torn off, and the colors used up.
Her love was big and open. She gave it often and freely. In fact, she’s actually my dad’s cousin, but she let us call her aunt all our lives. She lived loudly. She endured some rough times, yet she carried on. She didn’t have to, but she chose to. She was brave, loving, and ornery.
She was genuine, compassionate, and happy. She smiled every time I saw her. She knew me all my life and even though we didn’t see each other very much, I knew she loved me. I could feel it. Yes, when I think of her heart, it’s colored wayyyy outside the lines.
That’s the heart I want. I want scribbles. Forget a heart that’s divided neatly into compartments of family, work, friends, and hobbies. I want all my colors intertwined and all my life experiences muddled together just like hers were.
Oh, how I miss her. It hurts my heart to know that a week ago today she was here, but a week ago tomorrow, she wasn’t.
One thing about her was, she survived when she lost her loved ones. She was able to keep breathing and carry on. She did it gracefully. The best I can tell, she’d want me to do the same. Here’s to my beautiful aunt.