I am so tired of saying goodbye.
Gary's aunt (and godmother) passed away earlier this week. Elaine McAndrew was just 66 years old.
To understand our grief, you must know what kind of person his aunt was. She was a teacher first and foremost. She taught at the same school for 43 years. That is longer than I am even alive. Her students became her friends and many of her students became parents and then their children became her students. She was passionate and kind and genuine. She loved to learn and share stories and she loved to be with her family.
Elaine never married or had children of her own. So her sister's children were everything to her. Gary and Paul could do no wrong. (I will let this go for now). And their kids? Forget it. Every year Gary and Paul begged her to bring one present per kid for each birthday and for Christmas. She blatantly ignored them. Clothes, toys, piggy banks, dolls, Legos...you name it. I think she bought the presents year round and saved them for the special occasions. When her health started to decline, she took to ordering online. She loved to shower the kids with tangible reminders of how much they were loved.
Her body failed her but her mind was still lucid. She was admitted to hospice on Tuesday and Gary and I drove to New Jersey to say our goodbyes. She immediately told me to stop crying. She was ready to go. She was ready to go be with Gramps (her dad) and Allie.
When Allie died, Auntie E arranged for a circle of 3 trees to be planted in Israel in Allie's name. A devout Catholic and very much a believer in her own faith, she took the time to research my faith to know what might comfort me. That's who she was.
E had in been and out of hospital and rehab since late April. We thought she was going to make it through. We thought we had more time. Luckily we brought Miranda to see her a few times and on our last visit, Miranda strutted off her new walking skills. That seemed to bring Auntie E much joy.
In a few hours, Gary and I are leaving for the wake. There will be 2 sessions today and then the funeral tomorrow morning. My mom is staying with Miranda so that we can sleep at Gary's brother's so that we do not have to do the hour and a half drive late tonight and then again tomorrow morning.
I longed for a night when Gary and I could have a night away and just us. This is not the way I wanted it.
Heaven (or wherever people go once they leave here) is surely a better place today. I am just wondering when it will get too full and stop admitting people? Too many are going there before their time, if you ask me.
I do not want to say another goodbye. Especially to an Aunt who treated me like she knew me my whole life and like I was related to her by blood. Especially not to someone who would have taught Miranda so much. She was not done here. But maybe she still has some teaching to do. And maybe Allie will benefit from that.
We will miss you, Auntie E. More than words can say. Be at peace.