This morning, my husband lost an aunt, his two cousins lost a mother, four sweet kids lost a grandma, and my father-in-law and his three other siblings lost a sister. Yesterday there was an Aunt Janet in this world, and today there is not. The hole she left can’t be filled. The loss is incalculable. That thing that you are supposed to do—live so well that you’re missed intensely when you are gone—she did that. Grief is the price we pay for a lifetime of loving someone, and everyone who knew her is surely grieving today.
I didn’t have a lifetime, only 13 years, and I am so, so sad. For everyone in my husband’s (amazing, incredible, I’m-so-lucky-I-married-into-this-clan) family who knew her much longer, I can only imagine how they must feel.
I love words, but this is one of those times they feel too small to contain the magnitude of the feelings. I’ll do my best, though, to explain our Janet.
Janet was a single mom to two boys, now men, who probably not coincidentally are both pretty great dads themselves. Over the years, she was a foster parent to many other kids and took interest in many more. In the last years of her father’s life, she made sure he was taken care of, even when he made that difficult. She had plenty to complain about, but I never heard her do it. She loved her grandchildren fiercely. She was a refuge. She was considerate. Kind. Hardworking. Strong.
Ugh. Those are important things, but … they are not her. Not all of her, anyway. I’m not doing this right. I’ll try again.
When Janet walked into a room, she brought smiles with her. She had the most wonderful crinkly eyes, and always, always, the best hugs. She was ditzy and funny and fun, and the best family stories I’ve heard from before my time seem to involve her—the five-pound meatloaf being my all-time favorite. She was very warm. Very real. Her kitchen cabinets were painted a sunshiny yellow, and that was right and fitting, because she brought sunshine with her.
It’s so hard to distill the essence of a person into words, especially a person like Janet, who was so much about other people that even in the hospital, she was saying she was sorry, not wanting us to worry about her. Sorry, Janet, but not this time. This time it is all about you.
We will always love you. We will always miss you. Thank you for being who you were, for living so well that our hearts are breaking.
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