It was thirteen years ago today that I was sleeping on the couch beside my almost two year old and felt a hand on my forehead. Moments later, the phone rang and I was told my aunt was gone. We were living in Colorado at the time. My aunt was in PA. Aunt Sal wasn’t the first person I lost, and she hasn’t been the last. And sadly, there will be more in the future. Aunt Sal isn’t even the first to say goodbye.
In February of 2002, I traveled with Ed for the first time by plane after loosing my Grandfather. That day was a series of errors which lead to being able to have the money to purchase the tickets. It included at least three trips into Longmont, a lost ID, a closed bank, an unprinted check and a heart breaking phone call as we were walking in the door. Exactly the kick in the pants that Pap would have handed out. If that check had printed the first trip into Longmont, that money would had been gone.
I was thirteen the first time a loved one said goodbye. Just as I was climbing on the bus, I saw Uncle Ivan at the Junior High School waving. After years of cancer and chemo, his hair was growing back in spots that resembled a smiley face on the back of his head. At least to my memory. He waved to me there and then I saw him walking 356 once the bus stopped closer to home. I walked in the door and Dad told me he was gone.
Not everyone said goodbye. Gramma sent my baby sister and cousin to the playground in October of 1987. She then had a massive heart attack. The girls came back and called home in a panic. When my other grandmother passed, I had just started a new job in a new state, and met a co worker that day who looked just like my Grandmother Stivers. My first day on register and I have never checked out anyone quicker ever since.
This past year, I was actually surprised. Not once but twice. My cousin passed in August, his wife a few weeks later. It is heartbreaking for my aunt and his brother as well as their teenaged son. They were both so young.
I have always believed in spirits and ghosts, for as long as I can remember. The family visits aren’t scary, they are peaceful, loving. And I’ve had a couple when I needed them the most. I have joked about my Grandma Stivers having a better sense of humor now than when she was alive. Aunt Sal will always be Aunt Sal.
When Aunt Sal was so very sick at the end, and she knew her time was coming, she told everyone she was going to a party that they weren’t invited to. She was happy to finally hold the infant she lost. She had been seeing my cousin Joe who passed of cancer in 1998 for about a month. She talked of seeing Gramma and the grandfather I never met, and of course Uncle Ivan and Larry. Both sides of my family knew each other well. Aunt Sal and my Pap were oil and water in a comical way. Aunt Sal had almost crossed when I heard Pap say “There goes the neighborhood.” He had been gone a bit over a year then.
We all hold our beliefs. Mine is that our loved ones can be here at times. If you look for signs you can tell. It’s actually a comforting thought that we aren’t alone in that final transition. Gramma knew, Aunt Sal knew. Joe knew. They all knew for certain that time had come.
What are your beliefs? Do you find the idea of visiting loved ones scary or comforting? There is no wrong answer.