Tim and I went all over Clinton, Tn looking through antique stores at old telephones, rusty pulleys, old doors, vintage clothes, typewriters and knick knacks.
That’s always been one of our favorite things to do. Tim gave me a pair of faux glasses(I’d seen them at Urban Outfitters and thought they were cool.) and he even made me my own personal Jones Soda labels! 😍 I thought that was so sweet.
I told him I was surprised under “ingredients” he didn’t put “healthy dose of sarcasm”. 😂
We also went out to eat later with my family at Panda Express, which is my favorite place EVER. It was fun just getting to spend time with everyone.
This birthday though, unlike others, has had a lot of complicated emotions I’ve needed to muddle through. Like life. And death. And a little bit of the in between.
You see, on Friday, I hung out with my aunts and mom for lunch after I got off work. My mom called me on my way to the restaurant and said that she was picking up my Aunt Joan. Her husband, Jimmy, said she really wasn’t fit to be driving…
This aunt is one I have mentioned in previous posts. She was diagnosed with lymphoma about a year ago and has been driving almost weekly to Nashville to have testing and treatments done. This next week, she will be undergoing chemo.
When my mom got to the restaurant, I saw them and waved them over; me and my Aunt Sandra, who is my Aunt Joan’s sister, were already at a table. My mom came limping around the corner; she hit her foot in the garage a few days ago and has been wearing a boot because she broke her toe. And she had my aunt with her. When they went to sit down, my aunt almost missed the booth completely…
“Her balance has been off,” my mom said as we helped her sit down. As we talked, my aunt just sat there. Not really hearing anything. Several times, we had to repeat questions to her or she would talk like she hadn’t heard us saying something to her. I had to help her pick something on the menu. I knew she liked salmon, so I suggested that.
It was astonishing to see someone who usually has a smart comment for everything…be so despondent. When my mom and Aunt Sandra talked about her, it didn’t even register with her. Normally, she would have said something like, “I’m sitting right here, I can hear you!”
She didn’t even hear them.
I’m thinking back right now to Christmases we had in the past. My Aunt Joan would always have something smart to say to me, but she was also really thoughtful when it came to the gifts she gave me. I remember one time though, how she gave me paints when I was younger and I didn’t really appreciate them because I was being a brat. I know I hurt her feelings. Joan had a way though, of sensing that we both liked art, just maybe in its different forms. She liked to paint and I liked to write.
My Aunt has always been very blunt. And that’s not always a bad thing. I remember when she had darker hair and we would ride around in her car listening to 60’s music, just because she knew it would get me out of the house and give me something to do, as a teenager. She took me on her private investigating gigs where we had to spy on people who suspected their spouses were cheating. And I remember her always saying I was the Louise to her Thelma.
(This was an old picture when we went to the mall in Nashville and laughed at how expensive purses were in the Coach store.)
There was…none of her usual spark yesterday.
My mom said they have found masses on her brain. It’s probably those same masses that have been affecting her balance and her motor skills. I just never thought she would be this bad…a few weeks ago, she was fine. Tired, but fine.
This birthday has made me think. How SHORT life is. How we really only have so much time. And it makes me want to do something. Something worthwhile. Really make lasting memories. And we have. I just want there to be so many more.
I am 26. And I am not guaranteed tomorrow. None of us are. It’s about what we do with our time NOW.
How we let people know what they mean to us, NOW.
How we spend our time.
How we never regret anything.
I had a very fun day today. I just wish…that I could do something huge for my aunt. For my whole family. I wish we could all just go somewhere. And have fun together. And see things for the first time together. And just live and forget…this.
I have experienced loss before. I know what it’s like to see a great grandmother laying on her bed in the hospital and telling you, through the drugs in her IV drip, that she doesn’t want to see you anymore.
I know what it’s like to lose a pet and a best friend unexpectedly and wishing you could have been there for them, the way they were there for you, mopping up your tears with their tongue when you were crying over something sad.
I know what it’s like to be standing in a garage late at night and getting the news that your ex died of a gunshot wound and having your legs go out from beneath you because you collapse in disbelief.
Grief and loss. They really, really suck.
But I cherish the good moments, the in betweens. It makes me want to live more and live to the fullest.
I don’t know if any of this makes any sense at all, I’m just…writing it as it comes to me. It’s how it sounds in my head, so that’s how it looks here.
There are times in my life…when I take snapshots of memories, in my head and I think to myself, “This moment. This is one I will remember, always.”
You remember the smell. What you were looking at. Who was with you. How you felt. The sounds. How you felt so alive.
And that is what makes death and every part of it…mean something. It makes it…in a way, only a chapter. Not insignificant, but…also, nothing to fear.
We have our memories of ourselves, and our memories of others. We have pictures of our family members and one day, we’ll be in the hands of several generations down the line. They’ll look at us and say, “Who is that person? What did they stand for? What made their hearts race and their minds quicken? What did they love? Who did they love? Who were they?”
And we’ll say, not so loudly as to be heard, but loud enough that it comes through our eyes in those pictures, “We’re your blood. We’re your kin. We stand for a lot of the same things you do. The only thing separating us…is time. It doesn’t really even matter what we loved so much as who we loved. We are a part of you. That’s who we are.”