Loss….and the dance of grief

Aunt Angela & Uncle David at my wedding

Aunt Angela & Uncle David at my wedding

In December, while cleaning up at my mom’s house after the kids had decorated cookies, my mom received a phone call from my Uncle that my Aunt had passed away very unexpectedly that morning. When the phone rings and you take that call, for a brief moment the world stops spinning. We were all there, my two sisters and I, and all of our 6 kiddos were scattered about and we all froze. Shock, heartache, disbelief. How could a seemingly healthy person go to sleep one night to never wake again. She was young and vibrant, our minds couldn’t comprehend it in that moment and even now, weeks after laying her to rest, we still can’t wrap our minds around the finality that she is gone. She was my Aunt Angela, a fixture in my life since I have been a baby. Always here for the holidays, the big events, the small events. We traveled and vacationed together, we loved and laughed together. She was a huge part of my growing up. As I flipped through photo albums a few days ago I couldn’t make it more than a few pages without pictures of her, from the big events to the everyday mundane…she was a part of my life in all the big and small ways.

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My Aunt Angela was a light that lit up any room she walked into. She was the loudest voice, the loudest laugh…and she was always laughing. She lived life big, full. There are so many memories of New Years Eve parties at my grandparents house growing up…and she’s in every memory. I remember the years she was a Mary Kay consultant and would show up with all sorts of make up samples, sitting at my moms kitchen table, showing me how to use each one and teaching me how to apply make up. She always took time to explain each thing, years later, I am sure much of my makeup learning is from her. She loved animals. When I say loved, I mean rescued ANYTHING and EVERYTHING she found. Truly. At one point they had 10+ cats, multiple dogs (some 4 legged and some 3 legged) pot belly pigs, and I can only imagine what else. They never showed up for a visit without some loot of animals in tow. She worked with rescue organizations in every place they lived and animals knew she was a good one. Angela had an amazing heart, for animals, for people, for those that she loved. My uncle David and their son Bryan were her everything.

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Even this week, as a grabbed a quick cup of coffee with my sister, our conversation turned to Aunt Angela…”can you even wrap your mind around that she’s not going to be here anymore?” We both sit back in silence and breathe in a ragged breath. The finality of death can do that to you sometimes. Oh she is missed, so very much…as we rang in a New Year a few weeks back it was so strange for the clock to strike midnight without a hug and a kiss from her, something I have remembered almost every year of my life, as we gathered to celebrate with family and friends. It was a quiet New Year, one without party or fanfare this year, fitting of the loss that we are each feeling in our family.

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Grief is such a dance….the ups and downs of loss catch me off guard always. Our family has suffered a lot of loss, a few year back in a 2 1/2 year period we lost 5 members in 6 month succession….four grandparents and an aunt. While each of these losses are tragic and a major loss, it felt so different because each of them were expected, each one of them were sick. Our minds had allowed us to go to a place where we knew their days were numbered and while you can never be prepared, we knew what was ahead. I think Angela’s death has caught me so off guard because up until the day she was gone she was still so full of life and it was cut so tragically short. She is loved. Deeply. She is missed. Desperately. Our only consolation is a hope in Jesus and a promise that those who are in Christ will be reunited again. I miss my Aunt Angela every day and will always think of her as the events of life come and go. We aren’t guaranteed another breath, another morning. Live deeply, love deeply and make peace when at all possible with those around you.

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