There’s something about the death of a family member, even those only-at-holidays/weddings/funerals connections, that stirs up a wealth of regrets: for not making more an effort to stay close, for neglecting that last birthday card, for having to look up in the dusty genealogy records exactly how old they were. Family, however distant, is still a part of who we are. Whether all those memories and connections are pleasant or not is a discussion for another day.
Today I’m struggling with the regret end of the spectrum. In a short few weeks, we’ve lost Aunt Sharon on Hubby’s side of the family, and Aunt Bev on my side. A third aunt (my side again) is hanging on after a massive heart attack which happened the same day that Bev died.
I didn’t know Sharon well; that side of the family is too scattered and we were never close. Bev, however, played a significant part in my first ten years of life. I lost track of her after the divorce (regrets), and even though I’ve only seen her a handful of times since then, I remember her with fondness.
Almost twenty years ago, after reflecting on my grandfather’s death several years earlier, I wrote the following essay. It seems fitting to share it now, as Bev would have been a big part of the events mentioned therein. I’m hoping my regrets about Francee (aunt #3) may be alleviated with more time to spend to together, but in the meantime, I share in the flurry of text messages, emails, and phone calls with far-flung family members, offering virtual hugs and private tears.
Addendum: Francee died early this morning, February 12th. Sorrow mingles with still more regrets.
After this blog was posted, my essay was selected for publication in Flights, the literary journal for Sinclair Community College. So I’ve deleted the text here and hope you’ll follow the link to read it on their site. Thank you!
I hope you share love instead of harboring regrets.