I had a bit of a shock yesterday when my mom informed me that my aunt had passed away on Tuesday. We had just been to see her in the hospital a week earlier, and although she was in intensive care, sedated and on life support, I thought the prognosis was better. I thought there was a chance for her to get better at least for a little while. This was my mom’s younger sister, her last remaining sibling.
My dad passed away 2 years ago in August. Although we had many months to prepare and it was not a shock, we’re still getting used to his being gone. My brother is living with my mom now, but she’s still lonely and her younger sister’s passing unexpectedly has really shaken her up. It shook me up too, even though I was not close to my aunt, or maybe because I was not close to her.
That is my sadness, regret that I didn’t make an effort to get to know her more. I didn’t grow up near my extended family, but met them during vacations or family reunions over a lifetime. I moved to New England so I could be closer to relatives and get to know them, but nothing changed. The challenges of life got in the way & the limitations of my mind & heart prevented me from reaching out.
I have always believed in the afterlife, the eternal realm of spirit, and so have lived my life without much concern about death and dying. I try to be a caring person and do what good I can, but now I realize something has been missing. Those extended family relationships that my mother was so good at keeping, but I was not. We only have a certain amount of time to make relationships, to live our lives, and then we’re gone, or they are gone.
The finality of my aunts passing struck me much more than my own father’s death, I suppose because I had spent my whole life with my father nearby & involved in our lives. I feel he is just invisible now, but he’s there somewhere. I will see him again. Will I see my aunt again? Can I tell her I’m sorry I didn’t make the effort to go and visit her during the past 15 years while I’ve lived only an hour and a half away? I hope I’m only saying goodbye for now, see you again later.
Also this week one of my husband’s art students passed away. An elderly women who was so sweet to invite us to her home to see the many beautiful paintings she had done in the past. She and her husband both took classes from my husband, and her passing was also very sudden.
All my time & energy has gone into surviving and raising my own family. Should living our daily lives be such a demand that we neglect relationships? I think not. We are not rich, we do our best with hand-me-downs & yard sale finds and we have never had money to spare, although my husband & I have always both worked (aside from health set backs). But somehow the demands of daily life have been so all consuming that some relationships have slipped away from us. Has anyone else had this experience? I hope to make some changes, and make more effort to reach out.