You find out in the least personal way possible.
A quick message.
Typed in a minute, sent on a whim.
At first the pain doesn’t set in.
It’s like when you break a bone. It begins with a sound that notifies you of the hell to come. But you’re numb.
And then you feel the pressure. Hot, flashing, non-painful pressure.
It alerts you that though you may not want to be in this moment- you are alive.
And then the pain arrives.
In the grandest and most beautiful way.
It floods your mind with every memory and every regret you have. She is the center.
You remember your last hug, your last peck on the cheek.
How she used to liberate you with her love.
How she talked about you picking cherries from grandmas tree and hanging clothing from the line in the warm summer breeze.
How in her last days, she remembered details of you. But you cannot remember nearly enough about her.
The last time she held your hand, was the last time she will ever hold your hand.
You were alive in her memory. No matter how delusional she became she treasured you enough to see you.
Two years ago she didn’t recognize you because you had grown up. But then she snapped back to the present moment and marveled at your age. Then she was gone again…. Lost in her mind.
She would pack up her lunch to bring to work every day. Too bad she retired before you were born.
She got lost in her head. But she always remembered you.
She is lost in the ground. But you will always remember her.
The feel of her soft, black hand passing you clothing to pin on the line, and offering you another glass of juice and calling you a grown women when you were five, and the way she liberated you with love.
Because as long as you have memories- no matter how distant they are, you will be fine. She always managed to feel that way.
R.I.P Aunt Valda