Monday, February 06, 2012
Right, I don't really know how to put this into words, but I'll try my best to do justice to one of the most surreal, painful weekends of my life.
My precious aunt passed away at around 4:30am on Sunday morning. The hole she has left within me, and others that were close to her, is almost tangible. And deeper than I ever imagined.
I knew this period would be tough - seeing someone deteriorate so quickly in front of your eyes over a matter of weeks, and seeing the effects of a brain tumour literally suck away at the life in her body, was one of the most harrowing things I've ever experienced.
Many people are touched by cancer at least indirectly at some point in their lives. But I can say I didn't understand the feelings that death brings in terms of grief before now. How it truly it feels like to see someone you are extremely close to die like that.
Where you're directly involved, you're one of the last standing by their bedside, one of the last able to see her before it's the end. My uncle - her brother - was out for these past few weeks, and my heart breaks for him and my father. They've been all through it too, as well as my aunt's husband.
And even then, 'The End' doesn't seem final, but it does.
I had flu, so was inside on Saturday evening. When it started snowing. Huge, flakes dumped down. The first snow this winter. Very calm and peaceful, just like she was before she slipped away. It was at that moment I knew that would be it. She wouldn't last the night. I lit a candle, called my uncle to give her a final message from me (that was an incredibly hard phone call) and that was it. The next morning I heard.
The snow was symbolic - she had left the world with flair, as she only would, and this was her way of showing it.
Jesus. I can't stop crying. It just never ends.
I am absolutely devastated. I can't say I've cried like this in a while, but everything reminds me of her. The wisdom she's imparted to me. How we've laughed together (only days ago. How can she really be gone?) How we've shared such parallel lives. She was very special to me. My closest relative in recent times, especially as she lived in London. I don't even know where to begin.
I wouldn't know what to say to do it justice; she was such a strong woman. Unfaltering, stubborn as hell, sometimes even scary. Always putting everyone else first before herself, bothering that I had a fresh cup of tea when I saw her at the hospital. I can't even begin to explain why my sadness and tears are endless.
Mostly, I miss her. I miss her terribly. My aunt was like a big sister to me. She understood how my family worked, she got me. She was so cool. When I was 5, during a family holiday to the UK, I'd run around in her red heels and play dress up in her awesome cupboard.
We were very alike. We had similar life paths, the very least being we both moved to London when we were 29 and fell in love with an Englishman.
Going over to her house yesterday to be with the family there, and driving through Wimbledon, I felt so empty. Trying to understand it all. how she's been sick for years and managed to sustain a smile, a positive outlook, maintenance of the actual disease. Until it all just started to slide downhill, and really quickly.
Trying to confine everything about her into one eulogy, which I can hopefully say without crying, once in South Africa for the memorial there.
Mostly, wondering where she is now. Can she see us? Does she understand everything, is she with others, at peace? Does she even know what has happened?
London feels so empty without her.
She still had so much wisdom to teach me! This isn't fair!
Basically, really strange questions that I am guessing anyone who has been close to someone who has died, asks.
Going home to be with my family on Thursday, has never been more timely or apt. Strange how things work out. How life goes on, is also really odd. How I attend meetings at work today, in a sort of jaded distraction. How I have to buy soup for dinner. The soup she always liked.
Bless you my long-suffering aunt. I miss you more than you'd ever know.