A few days ago, on my birthday, I woke up to the news my aunt was dying. I was on a plane, rushing to see her and hoping to get there in time.
She had stage four bowel cancer, but I still believed we had more time. The whole 14 hour flight I just kept thinking of everything I wanted to to tell her.
How much I love her.
How wonderful she is.
How much I need and rely on her.
I landed, rushed to the hospital, and found a small body in a big hospital bed that sounded like it was sleeping.
It looked like my aunt. It smelled like her, ever so faintly.
But the hand I held, thin and still – it was not her.
She was this amazing, brilliant and bright indominatable force that defied any expectation or rules. She lived how she wanted, and told cancer to get fucked every second she lived.
Every so often meet people in our lives that make us feel special. Make us feel unique and wonderful.
She made you believe it; held you to it. You were never allowed to just let life beat you up, because you had something amazing only you could offer.
So life just had to fuck off out of the way, and leave you to blaze your own trail.
That person wasn’t there. She was gone.
For the next week my family waited through the horrible and foreign process of watching someone dead go through the process of dying.
Its not an experience you ever imagine, not something you ever think you would have to witness or accept: that someone could be dead and dying at the same time.
My aunt was like a second mother; I feel utterly lost without her.
She made a special connection with every person in her life, touched and let herself be touched by everyone.
She had this beautiful energy, and stubborn nature; which she was never afraid or ashamed to share.
She used to tell me off for so many things. Lecture me for everything. I honestly never believed I could do anything she thought me capable of.
I would give anything for another second with her; to have the chance to feel her hold me tight when I hug her close.
Instead I stare at a photo alone.
Thinking of memories faded and warmth gone.
I feel her loss with every fibre of my being; living seems so foreign.
I have always hated seeing myself in photos. Hated having to look at my image and be forced to recognise myself in that body.
Now I only have a handful of photos with her; where she had to bully me to get close and smile for the camera with her.
I know, sometimes, it’s hard for people to see themselves in the mirror or photos; to open themselves up by talking or hugging other people.
But if I can give any advice from my list of regrets?
Talk to everyone you hold dear openly every second – be honest and forge that connection even if its hard and you fight sometimes.
Take those photos, and hug and kiss at any opportunity.
Because when the day that you experience the death of a loved one comes, and it always does, it will never be enough.
No amount will be enough, time will always be stolen and robbed.
So allow yourself the comfort that you always tried to make every second count.
Because she did. And I wish I listened to her more; because now I am left here to stare at lost time ticking by angry and sad at decisions I made.
Live your life with those that matter. Everything else goes on; but love is the only thing that will stick with you.