Unring the bell

March 3, 2016

I haven’t written here for awhile because my aunt passed away suddenly and all I want to do is curl up in a ball and die, cry, lie in bed and be alone.

I suppose this is the grieving process.

I thought about including a picture of her, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. Something about it feels cheap and contrived. I don’t want strangers looking at her, this person who meant so much to me but nothing to them.

It’s good to have someone who knows you; who sees you and quietly acknowledges you. I keep thinking about how I felt standing in her kitchen, squishy carpet beneath my bare feet, when she opened a tupperware container and handed me a tiny turnover that fit in the palm of my hand. When I bit into it, it was cherry, my favorite, even though I didn’t know it yet because my mom refused to bake with cherries. She hated them. I’d mentioned to my aunt that I’d really like to try a cherry turnover, that I thought cherry pies looked good. She had remembered that simple conversation for months. I can still see the look on her face, how her eyes lit up seeing my eyes light up after that first bite. I was nine.

Nothing prepares you for death or how it feels in the aftermath, a person left behind.

All my childhood memories have returned with a vengeance; rich, strong, burning my nostrils, gouging my heart. Campfires at camp sites hours from home, my aunt boiling perogies over an open fire. My mom and her sisters hoisting my grandma by the back of her pants into her deep freeze to dig out homemade cinnamon buns and containers of jam, the four of them laughing hysterically. The royal blue and black shag rug in my aunt’s ultimate 70’s styled basement. How she always fixed the twin beds up in the bedroom for me and my mom when we slept over on shopping trips. The hula girl toilet paper holder in the bathroom down the hall, the one her sister-in-law brought back from a trip to Hawaii. How she and my uncle let me take over their tv room for Friday the 13th marathons, sneaking up from behind at just the right time to scare me so bad I screamed like a banshee. Their turquoise vintage car and how my aunt looked driving up with the top down, scarf tied around her hair, getting out in a perfectly poufy skirt and heels. She made the best handmade chocolates, but could also drive stick.

She filled a deep void for all of us when my grandma died very young, leaving our family in shambles.

She was always there for me.

Why was I waiting three days to call my aunt on her birthday?

Why didn’t I just call her that day when she kept crossing my mind?

I’ll spend the rest of my life thinking about it, regretting it terribly.

Thinking, thinking, thinking.

The only place I can find her now.

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  • Reply Bee April 6, 2016 at 11:25 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. May you find comfort in your memories and each new day ease your pain just a bit more sweetie. Hugs!! Your reflections are beautiful.

  • Reply missgiven March 8, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Very sorry for your loss.
    Beautifully written. I could picture it all so vividly.

    Acts 24:15
    Revelation 21: 3&4
    Ecclesiastes 9:5

    I have been studying the Bible since I was 4.
    The hope of a resurrection is plainly revealed. Jesus and his apostles resurrected here on earth as an example of what can and will happen.

    • Reply This Free Bird April 6, 2016 at 12:46 am

      Hi MissG. Thanks for this. You and I differ on some things theologically, but this is one I think we’re pretty close on. Life after death is a relief to me in situations like this. Hope your move is going smoothly!

  • Reply lena March 5, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Oh Carrie, I can’t imagine how much you must be missing her right now. But I know that, in time, it will feel like a blessing to have her there in your memories. Sending you so much love.

    • Reply This Free Bird April 6, 2016 at 12:45 am

      Thanks Lena. I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. What you said is true, memories are good to have – even when it stings to have them. xo

  • Reply Amanda March 4, 2016 at 12:23 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss, I knew something had happened when you stopped writing. Death is a *itch. Now you have a hole in your heart in the shape of your aunt. It won’t go away, but with time it will get easier to carry. The reason you didn’t call her that day is simple: you didn’t know. The good news is, it’s clear she knew you loved her, and she loved you. You will be in my thoughts, take care of yourself.

    • Reply This Free Bird April 6, 2016 at 12:44 am

      Thanks Amanda. Death is a total bitch and it’s inescapable on all sides. So sobering and, I guess, a reason to look through life with a less selfish lens (at least for me). This was a rude awakening. Hey thank you for reading and still checking in after there’s been a lull. Sometimes I only have deep and somewhat sobering things to share so I don’t say anything because I don’t want to be a downer. Seeing comments after being away awhile is so uplifting. Thank you again!

  • Reply Jen March 3, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. This post is a beautiful tribute. Wishing you peace and comfort.

  • Reply MarlaD March 3, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    I’m so sorry and I truly can empathize. I was going to see my grandma on Mother’s Day 1988 and she called me in the morning and said it was windy and she didn’t want me driving on the freeway and we could “see each other anytime”. She didn’t sound just right to me but I still didn’t go since she would have worried about me driving. She died in her sleep the next morning. I am positive your Aunt knew how much she meant to you – please let that comfort you as you work through the sadness and loss.

    • Reply This Free Bird April 6, 2016 at 12:41 am

      Oh man. I know just how you feel. How to get past it is probably not something I’ll ever do.

  • Reply Nadia March 3, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    I’m so deeply sorry for your loss. These are beautiful words for what sounds like a beautiful relationship. Please, take care.

  • Reply Marie a la Mode March 3, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Carrie I’m so sorry for your loss. Your Aunt sounds like she was an amazing woman who made a huge impact on your life. Your post was beautiful. Thinking of you xoxo

    • Reply This Free Bird April 6, 2016 at 12:40 am

      I know you understand and can relate. She was such a wonderful person and someone I definitely look to as a role model. Tough to find these days. Hope you are well and thank you.

  • Reply Ashley March 3, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    This was vividly beautiful. Wishing you peace.

    • Reply This Free Bird April 6, 2016 at 12:38 am

      Thanks Ashley, it’s been a tough couple months.

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