I went to my uncle's funeral a month ago expecting to mourn his loss. I think we knew he was sick for so long that I had already prepared my heart in so many ways. I already had time to say good bye. I am not done mourning him, for he was one of my favorite people in the world... but what I did not realize is that it was the first time I had to really come to grips with another loss. I did not realize until last month that I had also really lost my aunt. The reality hit me so hard that I still cannot quite grasp it. We barely spoke. It was such an incredibly sad time for me. I have lost sleep over this for so many reasons, but I am finally realizing the importance of detachment... a love that I can have while still letting it go.
I tend to find my closure with all things by writing. So, I wrote her a letter. Its barely a glimpse of my heart and the words are almost superficial at first read, but the heart of the letter is deep sadness for losing a friend for a reason I still do not fully understand.
To my friend and aunt,I'll think of you every time I eat a fresh baked piece of apple pie with vanilla ice cream. You always made the best. So fresh. Spending hours making the homemade dough and slicing those apples.
I'm going to think of you every time I go to a blazing hot summer wedding. Yours was the hottest I had ever been to. I was so thrilled to be in that wedding. I will never forget the perm my mom made me get before it, the fuchsia dress AND shoes I had to wear and the amount of sweat I sweat at the wedding and while dancing in that fire hall. Your puffy sleeves were the best. You were the prettiest bride I had ever seen.
I'll never forget early Saturday mornings in Jersey... it was so long until you woke up from being out late, just so I could see you eat your cereal and wait patiently for a perfect french braid and some perfectly placed nail polish. You were my young, pretty aunt. You were the one I wanted to be. We all have family members we click with. You were one of my favorites. People still get us confused as sisters. We were a lot like sisters all these years. That is something I always wanted.
I will still think of you every time I'm expecting a baby. Every time I go through boy clothes, every time I'm in my play room. You made me feel good to have ALL these boys... you had survived it. You handed me on the boy clothes and toys I never would've been able to afford in grad school. And you were the one I was most excited to tell, "It's yet again, another boy!" Thank you for letting me be there when you gave birth to your second boy. It was something that made me so unafraid of giving birth. You did it. I was there. I saw the joy and the beauty of motherhood so up close. It's a perfect memory. I still remember throwing on clothes the night after prom... hair still up, make up still on and rushing down to the hospital so I wouldn't miss it. Best day ever. And then you made me his godmother.
I will think of you when I remember back to my confirmation. You were my sponsor. I'm pretty sure at that time I had no idea what your faith life looked like. But it didn't matter to me, really. I picked someone I wanted to be like. I'll never forget your hair that day. It was BIG. That was the first time I really remember myself praying and talking to Jesus in a way I never had. I prayed for you that day.
I will never forget the many times you did my hair for homecoming and prom. My friends were so jealous that I had an in house hair stylist. You knew how to make me beautiful.. I loved doing girl stuff with you. Even though you are my mom's sister, you were just as close in age to me, so we were close and I so loved it. I so loved that even though I did not have a sister, you were something so similar to it. An older, but younger version of my mom. I just loved being around you. You were an easy person to make laugh and I love being funny (even if I'm not).
I loved that you guys lived with us awhile. It was like a slumber party every night. It was so fun to have a baby around and to share dinner with more than just my parents and brother every night. You did microwave your food way too much. Quinlan women and perfection. I tell ya.
Thanks for always wanting to borrow my make up. For just a minute I felt cool to share it with you.
I loved the sarcasm we had. The jokes. The way we would lip sing with spoons in the kitchen. I loved that you never missed any birthday, any holiday. And you showed up a lot, to performances, baptisms of my children, and all important family things. I loved the cakes you guys would make. It was always so nice to have a cake especially made for each occasion. It was a special gift.
When I suffered my miscarriage it was my biggest consolation to call you. I didn't have anyone else close to me to speak to and actually understand. It was such a source of peace... to have someone along side me suffer in the same way.
I love your boys almost as much as I love my own kids. You gave me a gift in them. Your three boys prepped me for my three boys. It was a great thing to have in common. And so much fun. Can you believe I finally had a girl?! I wish you knew her. She is the funniest person I have ever met.
I will miss you. I already do. I wish there was a way to figure out how to have saved your marriage. I would've cut off my right arm to do it. I remember driving down to talk with you about it. I remember begging you not to do it. I, of course, do not and never will know the whole story. No judgement is held. Just sadness for what was. And for what was lost in so many relationships when your marriage ended. I think deep down I wanted to watch you fight. I wanted to watch you fight so hard. I don't know whether you did or not, but watching someone fight for a marriage will change people's hearts and lives. It will save other marriages. If you fought and I missed any of it, thank you.
I will continue to work tirelessly in the engaged couples ministry because of your divorce. I think marriage prep is key, or at least I think it is. I will continue to work tirelessly on my marriage... it has been no walk in the park. There has been a great deal of suffering, disappointment, and things that I could never mention here. Really, the truth is, no one really knows what we suffer in our marriages, but I am praying harder every day that more people would be better able to endure it.
There is so much loss. I have suffered a loss. I know you have suffered so many losses. I wish so much I could get them back.
I wish I knew a way I wouldn't have lost you, but it just seemed as time went by, you slowly slipped away. I tried to hold on so tight. I still do not have peace about my loss. I'm having to lay that unrest down before Jesus every day. My human heart is so weak. And so confused.
I do not know all you suffer, but I wish I could make it better. I wish I could still be your friend. I'll think of you. I hope you will sometimes think of me.
I will be offering many sacrifices and prayers for you every day. I had a mass offered for you a few weeks back. I prayed a novena for you this week. I trust God to do much with those graces.
I love you. I will miss you.