Day 3, 4, and 5:
Phew. What a week. I’m already off to a rocky start with these daily postings, but last week sucked the energy out of me. Now my Macbeth essays have been graded, most of my students have been consulted for their placement levels for next year, and I’ve successfully worked out and cooked three delicious meals. Clear head and full belly – let’s write!
I could blame last week’s roughness on it being the first week at work after a lovely and warm and productive vacation, or it being the first five-day week since the week of January 29th, or it being a week with a multitude of deadlines and grading and meetings. But underlying this all was March 2nd.
Last December, my family and I suffered the greatest loss ever: my aunt Lois’ untimely and unfair death. She had battled cancer so bravely and beautifully for almost two years before the disease destroyed her within a week. She suffered a severe stomachache on Thanksgiving and raced to the hospital. Since I was home for the holiday, I awoke the next morning to my mother in tears. Her nephew had just informed her that her sister had a few days left on this earth.
Without further ado, my mom rushed to the hospital to find Lois resting…and to the news that she was ok! She had just had a chemo treatment the week prior, and doctors assured us that this was just a little reaction to that and to the Thanksgiving meal she must have consumed a day earlier.
When I arrived to the hospital, I greeted Aunt Lois, who had fallen asleep while they pumped something (fluids? Medicine?) into her. My mother informed that all would be ok.
Aunt Lois awoke. “Hi Dahlin’” she uttered, her voice weak.
“Hi Aunt Lois,” I said, cheerfully yet tired, as I had just calmed down from anticipating and preparing for the dreaded task of saying goodbye to her forever.
I did not want to disturb her or make her uncomfortable by continuing chatting, so I remained silent. She broke that with, “A barrel of fun, aren’t I?”
We all chuckled a bit, but her laughter was broken by small bits of coughing.
“We always have fun together, don’t we?” I stated with a smile. She smiled, and then closed her eyes.
That was the last thing I said to her, as she never fully recovered and was gone a week later.
March 2nd is her birthday.
Since her passing, my family hasn’t quite been the same, but in a good way. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to not make an effort, but a schedule to contact each other more via Skype, texts, or the archaic (gasp) phone call. We try to fill the hole in our hearts left by my aunt with this precious time, and I intended to go out of my way for March 2nd. That day, I would embrace the world in honor of my aunt. I would paint (an activity she taught me to do 14 years ago), eat peanut butter and chocolate galore, and call my family members, just as she would have done.
Instead, I spent it grading essays, denying myself of dessert for Lent (Ok, I had 7 peanut butter M&M’s in her honor), arranging for my bathroom to be remodeled, organizing my taxes, doing laundry, and scheduling a TBD painting night.
My aunt loved life, and I kicked myself as I glanced over my 15th essay. How could I do this on her birthday? But I assured myself that this feedback to my student (who nailed the HIT-TEAL-BAM paragraphs!) would stick with them for some time, and that I would go paint soon.
So I sit here tonight and wonder what I could say to my aunt. Would she appreciate my efforts? Of course she would. That woman didn’t have one mean bone in her body. Then I think of my bones and how I wish I had a similar skeleton. I miss her so much, and I find that the only way I can ‘be around her’ is to be like her. R and I did end up painting together this weekend, which helped me ‘be with my aunt’ again. I painted a sunflower on a plate (the first successful painting Lois and I ever did together), and R and I both had a ball. And I thought, this is how I remember her. I paint. And I paint with others. March 2nd (or around there), I will paint. Promise.