Saturday, November 3, 2012

At Season's End

I received some sad news, again this week, that another beloved aunt passed away. Michael's aunt passed away weeks ago, and my aunt passed away a few days ago. They were a wonderful constant presence for us. His aunt I grew close to from the start. I was twenty the first time we met. She was immediately kind to me, accepting, inclusive. Later, we met again when I was a single mother and Michael and I were dating. She continued her kindness. I felt no judgment from her, which was a sweet relief; because the thing about being a single mother is there is plenty of judgment, even from those who barely know you. I felt only acceptance, only kindness. Aunt Estelle told me about the family. I referred to her often as the history keeper. She held within her memory all the family history. Her benevolence was not shared only with me, but all who she met. She was so smart, so involved in politics and the events of the day. Her activism had me captivated. My own aunt, Aunt Ginny was a very different personality, but just as important. Her influence was of family oriented education. She taught love every moment of her life. Her life was a difficult one, filled with grief and loss, yet she continued to softly, sweetly teach us all about eternal hope. She never gave way into the path of despair, or self pity. She reveled in all of our accomplishments and just wanted to be a part of the family, included in everything we were a part of, as well. These two very diverse women, so loving and kind gave everything of themselves for those they held dear. Both had suffered unthinkable losses and remained unchanged, undaunted in their determination to show empathy and compassion. I know from personal experience when one suffers an unthinkable blow; a “Y” in the road appears, to go left or right. One can decide to be forever altered, and give in to the despair, forever locked into the dance of sadness and grief, or one can decide, making an active choice to move forward, making sure to see those in similar pain, offering assistance and a shoulder when necessary. My daughter and I were discussing how some people come into our lives like seasons, not meaning to ever be permanent, but a temporary distraction in order to teach us something and then move on. It is in our late teens we discover for the first time what that truly feels like. It is disheartening, and clearly uncomfortable to have to let them go when the season ends. I have had many “friends” who were seasonal, becoming very close for a brief time until it became clear it was time for them to move on, either past me or through me, in order to travel their own journey. Some lessons left behind taught me what I wanted out of my life, and others made their distinction by teaching me what I did not want. Either way, they had done their job and it was time to keep traveling forward in my own life as I continued to try to be a much better person because of the roads I have taken rather than get mired in the mud, stuck in time and space, wrapped in guilt and grief. Michael and my aunts were lifers, those wonderfully loving individuals who stuck with us until the bitter end. They were in it for the long haul. We have lived long enough to know that just because someone is listed as family doesn’t mean they have to stick by you. Hard earned experiences have taught us to feel eternally grateful to those who have. These beautiful women gave us their hearts. They shared their minds and forgave us our sins. They remained people we could call in good and bad times and without judgment, without cynicism, they would reel us back into the reality of love. There really are no words for the loss we have suffered. I believe there is a finite group of people who love us for exactly who we are, regardless of our faults. This love, this all encompassing warmth, is one we all take for granted at some point in our lives until we are old enough to understand just how remarkable it is. As my beloved and I age, we are forced to let go of more and more of the finite group of family, whether by blood or choice, who are at an age when their work is done and it is time for them to rest. The world is a little cooler for us now asmwe are laying our loved ones to rest. The work for us continues to carry on their legacy. If we take anything away from these heartbreaks, let us keep in the forefront of our minds that kindness matters. Let us always choose good over easy, compassion over judgment, and warmth over cold indifference. We were taught firsthand how it is done to perfection, and we cannot un-ring that bell. Today, I carry Aunt Estelle and Aunt Ginny with me. Within me there remains capacity for growth, time for compassion, and room for love. I wish them as much love as they have given us all these years as they remain peacefully surrounded in light. When we feel discouraged their voices will be heard in our hearts and minds.

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