October 29, 2007

Dear Aunt P’s friend

When Aunt P called me on Saturday night to tell me that your mother was at “the end”, I just couldn’t believe this could be happening. She had just retired, you just had a baby, your brother is getting married next month…. she’s only 58 years old – how could she possibly be dying?

When the phone rang at 6:30 Sunday morning, I saw Aunt P’s number on the caller ID – calls that come at that hour rarely bring good news – no words were needed, I knew that she had passed.

When I saw you at the wake, I could tell the past few weeks had really taken a toll on you. You looked good, but tired and small. Gone was the young girl Aunt P went to second grade with and the teenager that carpooled to high school with us – before us stood a grown woman providing comfort to all those who had come to offer their comfort and support.

Your Dad looked so lost, and I just watched him trying to hold it together. It felt like you had assumed the role of the parent and he, the role of the child -- your strength was propping him up from across the room. You and your brother are truly the greatest gifts your parents ever gave each other.

The next day at the funeral, I sat next to Aunt P as she rocked your baby girl. It’s so unbelievably cruel that such a wonderful woman will never get to see those chubby little legs toddle their first steps or hear that tiny voice call her “Grammy” for the first time.

I know it's odd to say, but in a way I’m almost grateful that you didn’t lose your mom until after you became a mother yourself – because now that you are a mother, you can begin to fathom how much joy you brought her and how proud she was of the remarkable woman you’ve grown into. It doesn't soften the blow, but maybe it helps in some small way.

I’m sure it’s all a blur to you now, but the church was filled with the lives she’d shaped – friends like Granny, me and Aunt P – former students who were guided by her faith, her unintimidating style and her sense of humor – colleagues who followed her extraordinary example.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t blessed with a long enough life – but you should be so proud of the contributions she made to her community – and know, that her family was her greatest achievement and it is a magnificent one.

Lean on us when you need to
Love Mrs Big Dubya


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