My aunt was one for simple words; she said what she meant as plainly possible, niceties be damned. You always knew where you stood with her, because she told you. She taught me a lot of things; and sometimes, those lessons were hard to swallow.
She always said that sometimes, when you are telling someone something they need to hear there is no way to be nice about it. Sometimes, there has to be a little pain for a lot of gain.
If I tried to say my aunt was philosophical, she probably would have laughed and told me to stop being an idiot; because ‘she was no philosopher, she was just plain right’.
The other day my uncle, in a post promoting Cancer Survivors Day, mentioned my aunt – specifically, he mentioned what she was telling everyone when she was first diagnosed.
In life everyone is a tourist; we come to this world to enjoy all it offers – to make memories and do good. Don’t be sad for me, I just happen to be leaving earlier than some. Don’t mourn adventures lost; have one.
I set my phone up to notify me when all my family birthdays or special events come up; and this morning, I got the reminder that hers is tomorrow.
Normally, I would give her a call – call her Aunty Rachael because she hated how “aunty” made her sound old, wish her a happy birthday and talk briefly. Then this weekend everyone would probably meet at my grandparents and she would organize a family dinner to celebrate.
But tomorrow, for the first time, no one is going to pick up my call. No one will tell me to ‘fuck off’ when I call her aunty because I knew it pissed her off. No one will call me a smart ass when I tease her.
She was 44. I keep thinking about when I held her hand in the hospital.
I was just holding it, rubbing it with my thumb begging her to stay. It got caught in her wristband, and I was drawn to how clinical that band was.
44 years and 11 months.
I have been working really hard to turn my life around the last few weeks; been eating better, exercising and trying to study more. All the things I did when I was younger, that she kept encouraging and pushing me to get back to.
I wish I had tried harder sooner; that I didn’t just get lost in my head and ignore everyone helping. Instead, I turned it into some warped conspiracy.
They want me to be like this or do this so then they can have some trophy; they don’t love me – or like me – they just like the feeling of loving me.
Stupid thoughts, that wasted so much time. But I have to keep moving. Because I don’t know how much time I get; but I do know it is finite.
And I want to spend the rest of my life doing what she wanted me to: being happy.
Its all she wanted, and I fought her so much. My parents, they want the same thing. For them, for her – and even for me, I have to keep going.
I always have seen my mother and my aunt as amazing role models; brilliant, strong, and independent. They both are caring and nurturing, and stubborn as hell. They never let anything hold them back; and my aunt, she just kept going.
So I have taken the philosophy I so often admired in them, so strongly identified in her and my mother, and start applying it to my own life.
One does not strive to be ordinary; it is something we resign ourselves to.
We are all another face in a strangers crowd; but in the relationship we forge and cherish, we all become an important individual. We all stand out; just as they are marked in the sea of faces to us.
Even when they are gone, their presence never leaves the sea of anonymity – they float and flutter, and they sit in the deepest parts of us.
So this post marks the next phase of my life; I am losing weight, I am opening up more with friends and family, I am working at university. Some days are still pretty horrible – and it still can feel like I am drowning in the sensations of anxiety or disoriented in the thick fog of depression – but now its getting easier to go on; its not just about surviving through another day anymore, but now its actually trying to live each and everyday with purpose.
I might not be ready yet, but I will at some point share this blog with my parents. Because its easier to write these things down, post it anonymously, and then gradually discuss points from the posts as I gather the nerve and fortitude.
But until then I thank the few strangers for support I have been rewarded, and am completely indebted to the love and wisdom of my aunt.