Friday, April 6, 2012

Chapter 21: Walking far from home.

This is the winner of the little writing contest.  She asked to be kept anonymous, and I'll honor that request. Names have been changed.

I appreciate her honesty, which is exactly what I asked for.  I'd love to see more of this in the blogs I read.  I can't speak for everyone else, but it has been so liberating to open myself up and be brutally honest.  

I figure, what do I have to lose, talking about my deepest thoughts, feelings, and fears? I think the only thing I have to lose, is the fear itself. That's something that we could all do well to overcome.  

I'd love to see more of this kind of honesty around here.

Thank you [winner] so much for writing this!  I will be flying to where you live within the next month or two, have a nice dinner, and that massage, as promised. 

Here is the post:

I've been reading Greg's post for a while now. I am one of the 'weird ones' that looks forward to the next post simply because he dares to write things I've often thought about, felt about myself, or even considered. He's posting my deepest thoughts and I think that's precisely why I'm so attached.

 I bawled through the post about 'Sandra and Trevor.' 

I lost someone who was my 'second mom.' Only she was my Aunt Janet. And for some reason, I have been thinking about her a lot lately. She passed away the summer before I turned seven. But I do not have a childhood memory that doesn't have her in it. Me thinking about her is no off the wall thing. It happens frequently. But lately, it has been an every day thing. Multiple times a day. I know she was helping me through some of the hardest few months of my life

My Aunt Janet was the type of woman that after you met her once, you were family. It didn't matter who you were. She took you in, hugged you like she'd known you her entire life, and made sure you knew you were welcome in her home. I remember out in her huge backyard a big white barn where she and my Uncle Scott kept tractors and years of hoarding parts, horse and farm equipment, and any other knick knacks they just couldn't part with. In this barn, in the back room, was a large deep freezer where she kept tons upon tons of popsicles. Not the weird ones that they sell now. The good ones. Banana and root beer ones that you broke in half and ate fifteen of at one time. Yeah, those good ones. It was my favorite part of her house. Even in the dead of winter, with three feet of snow on the ground, she would take me out back to get popsicles. She's the reason I love banana so much. We'd split them. Even if we were going to eat three, we always split them.

My parents worked full time, to support me and my four other siblings, so I didn't see a whole lot of them growing up. Especially in the summer. I spent more time at my Aunt Janet's than I did my own house. She raised me like her own daughter, and I loved her like I love my mother. 

I remember the summer I turned six (odd, because I wasn't really that old, but these memories are still so vibrant, like it was yesterday). I still went to Aunt Janet's, still ate popsicles and ran around chasing assorted animals around her enormous yard, still went sloshing through the creek next to her house and got that glare when I would come inside soaking wet with an angel's grin on my face. That was all still the same, but for some reason, Aunt Janet wasn't. She was tired more, and slept on her chair during the day instead of jumping with me on the tramp, or counting how many times I could outrun the chickens. She only ate a few popsicles with me, and started saying funny things, like 'when I'm gone' and 'you've gotta be strong.' Those were pretty confusing things for six year old me....

Aunt Janet had cancer. On top of that she was diabetic. And on top of that, the crazy old lady smoked cigarettes like they were going extinct. I guess already knew she was dying, so she was going to make sure she went out in style. God only knows why people ever do the crazy things we do.

The last memory I have of her before all of the hospital memories, was that last summer. It was one of Aunt Janet's good days. And I was staying over. It was one of those rare weekends that I had her all to myself, and somehow, even then, I knew she wouldn't be there much longer. So when she asked if I wanted to sleep on the tramp that night, I jumped at the chance. Plus, what six year old doesn't love sleeping on the trampoline in the middle of summer? 

We packed out as many blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows as we could carry, and sank into the middle of the tramp together. We stayed staring at the stars for a few minutes, and then she started talking about those great big balls of fire. Our conversation went something along the lines of this:

"Do you see that star there? The bright one, that looks like it twinkles every few seconds kiddo?" She asked.
"Yeah.... by the moon." I replied
"Well, what do you think makes those stars look so bright? Why do they twinkle? Why do some look brighter to me, with some brighter for you?" She questioned me. Puzzling me more and more by the second. But I knew it was important, so I let her keep talking.
"I think," she continued, "that those ones that twinkle to me are people I love, who I've lost, just telling me it's okay. That they are there, that they love me, and I'm not forgotten. And someday, you'll look up at a star, it will twinkle, and you'll know that I love you, and you'll know that no matter what you are going through, no matter how hard it seems, that it's going to be okay, and that you're not forgotten, because I remember you, I'm there for you still, and I love you so much. Promise me you'll always remember that?"
"I promise. I love you too."

I don't remember what else happened after that. But I remember six year old me having a hard time wrapping my head around just what exactly she was saying. She was always going to be there, and why would anyone ever forget me? What could I be going through that I would forget those who loved me? Why did it feel like everything was happening so quickly? Like she was literally fading before my eyes, and that she slipped through my fingers a little more each day? 

Probably because she was.

She ended up in the hospital not too long after that. Her body wasn't taking too well with the chemo, and her diabetes was making it more and more complicated to be alone when my Uncle was at work. 

We were supposed to go and visit her on Saturday. I would be out of school, Mom and Dad weren't working, and everyone had the time to drive over to the hospital.

But the call came Thursday morning. She had passed the night before. Gone in her sleep, peacefully fading away. Finally not sick from chemo, finally unattached to wires upon tubes that were keeping her frail body still on this side of the veil. She was gone. 

The next few days were a blur. I vaguely remember what happened.... At one point during the funeral hearing someone crying, and not realizing it was me until I reached up to my face and felt the warm hot tears pouring from eyes. They didn't stop after that for what felt like months. Still, writing this post, just her memory, the sweetness of her disposition, thinking of all those banana popsicles, it bring those hot tears boiling over again. I miss her. So much, every day. I love that woman.

So, the next time you are feeling forgotten, or you just need someone to tell you that things really are going to be okay, remember her. I'm sure she would have considered you family, too. Would have loved you. Look up at the stars, find that one that twinkles at you, and know......

You are not forgotten. It is going to be okay. And you are loved. So loved...

Remember this, Romantics. You are not forgotten.
No matter what happens, it's going to be okay.
You are among friends here, and you are loved.

The oilfield Romantic

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