It was around 1980 and was ‘just us girls.’ Aunt Sue, my two cousins and me. I’d stayed over on a Saturday night. On Sunday morning we piled into the car, left the big white farmhouse and headed to church. We sang, “Delta Dawn” by Tanya Tucker at the top of our lungs. Over and over and over.
I think I was 10 years old. I think we were in a red Subaru station wagon. I think it was Spring. I think I was wearing a pair of corduroy gaucho pants and had a new pair of clogs on. Because I can’t recall all the vivid details.... I think, think, think, think, think, think, think. Until I can’t think anymore.
What I know. I learned a new song that day. With the windows rolled down, the wind blowing on my face, spending time with my family, I experienced pure joy.
I know too, this blog was supposed to be about something very different. But right now, no. I just couldn’t... My mind isn’t there.
My mind is on her. Aunt Sue. Who’s really my cousin (but that story can wait for another time). Born 8 days after my 74-year-old-mother. They were glued at the hip when they were little. Her best friend. My other mom. The one who no matter the time or distance, has always been there. The one I chatted with last Sunday. She’d sent me a message... “Saw this and thought of you, Sweet Pea. Love and miss you. Aunt SUE.”
Then completely out of the blue, a phone call. And a second one. I got the final call last night at 9:00pm. A short span of 3 days. It wasn’t supposed to be like that.
My 13- year old daughter asked, “Aren’t you going there... to say good-bye?” 3,000 miles away, in a pandemic, and a no visitors-allowed- hospital. How can you say good-bye? How do you say good-bye?
I. Don’t. Know. How. To say good-bye. To my daughter at age 13, this is greatly confusing. I sense a sadness from her.... she’s not experienced this before.
It’s confusing and sad to me, at 52. It’s confusing and sad to my mom, at 74. It’s confusing and sad and shocking to everyone who knows her.
Can we ever really say, good-bye?
I’m thankful that my ‘Aunt Sue’ memory box is chalk full. So full, that it’s busting apart at the seams. It’s full of random things....Seeing the movie, “Jaws” for the first time. Locking the babysitter in the bathroom. Camping and beach trips. BBQs. Church. Washington. Indiana. Florida. Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving and family Birthday parties, every year for as long as I can remember... with chocolate cake and Neapolitan ice-cream cut into squares.
It’s filled with good food, and lots of music, and movies, and books and laughter. Oh my goodness there’s so much laughter... The kind that makes your stomach hurt because you can’t catch your breath. The type of laughter that’s so contagious you had to laugh with her. Because that’s what she did. She smiled and laughed and lived her life so completely. She never knew a stranger. The lives she impacted are too many to count. She loved unconditionally and oh boy, was she loved in return. We were blessed to have her in our lives.
My memory box of her is so full that I can’t take the lid off right now. I can’t bear to think that they’re just that... memories. But little memories keep escaping on their own.
🎶“Delta Dawn, what's that flower you have on Could it be a faded rose from days gone by? And did I hear you say he was a-meeting you here today To take you to his mansion in the sky?”🎶
My heart hurts. I know so many others, who loved and knew her, are experiencing the same. So no. I can’t say good-bye. I don’t want to. I don’t know how. I know she understands.
Her memories. When the time is right I’ll embrace each and every one of them. What remains with me, always, is the way she lived life to its absolute fullest.
We could all take a lesson from her about that. No longer in pain, she’s at peace now.
I imagine her... laughing and carrying on in that great big mansion in the sky. The rest of our family and friends who’ve already traveled there --- welcoming her, with arms open wide. Our guardian angels.
Dear mansion in the sky, hold her tight, cause you got a real good one this time. Hold onto your people a little bit longer. Tell them you love them. Time together.... is precious.
“Love and miss you, sweet pea!” ‘Love you too, Aunt Sue.”
You already are. It’s time to be. 🖤