My aunt Tina asked for a pedicure during a visit a few weeks before she passed. I worked at a salon before starting a family and she wasn’t very mobile, so the shoe fit. The day she passed she made it a point to thank me, and show me her feet again. She was so proud of them. She was proud of something on her body…… A woman who had been battling cancer for 2 years, no hair, no ovaries, unable to eat for 6 weeks, unable to move, and face swollen/bruised from the migrating cancer. I can’t express how emotional it is typing this as I am still unpacking her passing. I just feel like these life lessons are important. When a loved one is passing you will never think to yourself “I wish they did more for me.” Instead “I wish I served them more.” Serving someone is honoring them. It is also one of the biggest honors we have access to experiencing. Spending those moments with her, cleaning up her feet, was one of the biggest privileges I’ve had in some time. It just made her so happy. Which left me also digesting what I identify as privilege in my life… That kind of experience doesn’t have a shallow point of registration. It is penetrating and valuable. But only when you are doing it just for them, not the people watching, is it mostly effective. Honoring people with heart and only having them in focus, inside of your mental lens, is a dual deposit.
There is pain of knowing the things we will not have in the near future…. I just miss her, I know where she is, but the deep parts of my heart are reaching for more of her. Most of all her conversation and time. Her time was never divided. I miss her being healthy. She was a personal trainer. She taught me how to play most sports like badminton, softball, and tennis. She was very active. I miss her being lively. She was her happiest when she was being active. I wanted to get old with her in our lives and enjoy more life things together, without the cloud of cancer constantly looming. But, all of those things show up dull next to the vibrancy of heaven, I know.
Her final days she would doze off often from exhaustion. When she woke up I would ask her what she dreamt about and sometimes she would mumble “Pepper”. She really loved us, with such a reckless abandon, in the way I love Pepper I think. The kind of love that is always available and doesn’t look back or withhold. You don’t notice that kind of love until you feel it for another human like your own children….. To her, my sisters and I were still little girls. She didn’t have children so my siblings and I were the closest thing to that for her… There was a point we didn’t have a home and we lived with her in Florida. She did a lot for us, she served us. We would jump on her trampoline with her and her golden retriever so hard our feet met the grass. It eventually broke, mid trampoline party, and we all fell off. She was fun.
The conversations I’ve had with her the past couple years where filled with wisdom and humor. I loved watching her love Pepper and Davis. There is nothing like seeing people you love, love one another. It’s heart food. Observing her work ethic and forgiveness is a treasure to me, she was a treasure. Pain and celebration are a rare cocktail of emotions. She was saved before she passed. Thinking of that makes it feel like Christmas for a moment, then the rollercoaster loops again.
I found myself running from her cancer too often. But don’t run from people with illness. It is more emotionally costly in the end anyways. It is not self preserving it is selfish. Honor people and take delight in moments of substance. Pine for it, harder than anything. If you feel like something is missing in your life, fulfill something for someone else. Kindness is always worth it and people are precious. She was precious.