Monday, August 27, 2012

It won't because she was sweet

My Aunt May is dying. She is 94 years old and has been in a nursing home for a few years. She is the last of the Carter siblings for whom my oldest son is named. She is a fireball. She is strong. She is smart. And now, it is her time to go.

Over the past few years, I've experienced death in many different ways. My grandmother had Alzheimer's and experienced a very slow and difficult decline. She was the first family member or friend that I lost. I was sad but not destroyed.

My other grandmother, Honey, moved to California with my parents when she was around 90. I didn't get to see her much or talk to her in her last years. She was 97 when she died. She died in much the same way that her sister, my Aunt May, is going. She was just worn out of living. Again, I was sad - I lost a great champion in Honey. She believed that I was as close to perfect as God ever made, and I loved her dearly for her belief in me and the strength she taught me.

Next to go was my grandfather. He was one of my dearest friends. It was the first loss that sent me to the floor, knees buckled, tears streaming, and actual physical grief coming forth with no way for me to control it. He told me that he didn't want to go just days before he died. I didn't want him to go either. I was pissed off at God for a long time even though Granddaddy was 94 when he died. It wasn't exactly a surprise

Then, my daddy got sick. So very sick. Parkinson's and dementia took him slowly and cruelly. He died in February of 2011, and I felt relief. I felt relief for him and for my mother who was his primary care giver in spite of her ongoing battle with ovarian cancer. I missed my daddy for a long time before he died. I mourned his death, and I still miss him now, but again, I managed.

What came next was completely different. 364 days after my daddy died, my best friend, my soul sister, my person, she died. Gone. Left this world. Left her husband, her kids, her parents, her brother, and her friends. Some days I'm so angry. Most days I'm just sad. Often it feels like we are all just kind of standing still, holding our breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Susan is gone. What happens next?

What in the world are we all supposed to do now?

It's like that when someone young dies. You don't exactly make long term plans with your daddy who has a degenerative disease or with your 97 year old grandmother. But with your best friend of decades? You plan things. You plan trips. You plan things for your boys. You plan retirement. You dream together because you are peers. I can't imagine the plans that she had with her family.

What do you do with all of those plans?

I know I have to let it go. I have to send it down the stream.

It's just not that easy.

Kevin and I made a trip down to Georgia for him to meet my relatives there. They are awesome people, and I wanted him to spend a little time with them. His favorite story to tell from that trip is about meeting Aunt May. We got to talking about my grandmother, May's older sister, and her nickname, "Honey." Kevin asked Aunt May why we all called my grandmother "Honey," and Aunt May replied without a moment's hesitation,

"Well it won't because she was sweet."

I love that woman. Thank you, Aunt May, for all you did in helping raise my momma to be the woman she is today. I wish you peace and comfort.