The house is dark, the men asleep, and Aunt Winnie no longer being here is really hitting me. Why did I think I would escape this grief? I thought because so much of her had already left, that when her so broken body gave up the last of her spirit, I would be grateful for her release. And I am. She had no quality of life left at the end. But oh, I miss my aunt, the years we shared across our little courtyard, the feisty woman with whom I always laughed, the surrogate grand who babysat my children, my third parent.
I confess I thought it would be a relief not to worry about how make Easter a little special for her, what dinner to bring for her and her home attendant, but instead, all I feel is the void. My thoughts keep going to her, like a missing limb, and I have to keep reminding myself that she is not there, she is not there, she is not there. Every day when I arrive home, as my feet touch the courtyard between our two buildings, the thought is in my head, Maybe I'll just stop by Aunt Winnie and sit with her for a few moments, and then I remember.
At her memorial service, a soloist with the voice of a soprano angel sang Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up," and now I cannot get the song out of my head. Yesterday, after my husband had gone to take the altar arrangements to the church, and while he and his two fellow wardens along with our son spent the afternoon cleaning construction dust from the sanctuary to make it shine for Easter services, I played that song loud in my empty house, and the tears just flowed as they had not yet done for my aunt. Truly, she raised us up. Aunt Winnie is evidence of God to me, by which I mean she was the embodiment of love. When people say God is love, she was the very definition of that. She loved us so completely. She loved me so completely.
I did my best for her, but I didn't do nearly enough. The weekend of her memorial, the family kept thanking me for all I had done for her, and I felt like a fraud. Perhaps it was impossible to do enough for one such as she was. Lying awake next to my sleeping husband tonight, I found myself missing her so intensely, the pillow soaked, and so I got up to write here, because writing down what I am feeling is the surest way to embrace it, to truly let myself feel it, to honor the fact that I am missing my Aunt Winnie so fiercely this morning, and not just Winnie but Maisy, too, and my dad, too, and I am scared for how it will be when my mother joins them, and I pray she stays awhile longer on this side with me.