There is a story that brings me to tears when I think of it. I was adopted, by two loving parents who had tried for many years to bear a child of their own, biologically. When the adoption proceedings were completed and it was time to bring me home, my then to be Mom and Dad went to pick me up. My Mom tells me how she looked at my fingers and toes with all the amazement that a woman feels when she gives birth. How she held me tightly knowing from that moment on she would always hold me tightly. How she gazed at my little face, my tiny nose and mouth and thought what a miracle she was holding.
About two months after the adoption proceedings closed and I was a part of a family I developed a severe rash that ravaged my entire body and became progressively worse. The pediatrician (someone should have taken his license) who was having no success with ointments and whatever treatments he deemed appropriate, told my Mom to "return" me. He told her I would be a sick child, and a sick adult and to "give me back".
If my Mom were telling this story to you, you would see the heaviness in her heart, the pain on her face, the despair in her soul. She had no questions and she had no answers except that she knew in the wink of an eye that I was her child as sure as if she had given birth to me. She would fix it somehow or she would weather the ensuing storm.
It was my Aunt Anne, who was waiting at my parents home the day they brought me home. It was my Aunt Anne with her wisdom and her experience with her own three children who stayed with my Mom through the first week of my life there, to help, to support, to be there. It was my Aunt Anne who recommended another pediatrician and took my Mom and me to him. It was my Aunt Anne who was there....often and always, a sweet and gentle woman with a huge heart.
It was eczema, hardly a life threatening condition nor one which might predict my future health. I was never a victim of any other allergies as a child, nor as an adult. It was controlled with diet, it was milk that I was allergic to and once started on one of the milk substitutes I would turn out to be a clear skinned and healthy child.
I recall this story today, because my Aunt Anne will no longer brighten the world I live in. She will no longer smile at me, tell me her stories or play on the piano. She now brightens the heavens, soars with the angels and sings in the clouds. My Aunt Anne died today, and when I look back upon my 47 years, I remember a kindly woman with a huge heart and a smile for everyone. I remember nimble fingers on the piano keys as she played anything from the show tunes to Mozart while we listened, entranced. I remember her love.
I don't know how life passes in what seems an instant, when it is said and done and gone. I don't know how to do anything but relish those years, when the entire family was together, when we, the then children, laughed together, cried together, were annoyed at our elders together and looked for our freedom. In my mind, there are brown and white photographs. They are all filled with love.
Aunt Annie, I am sad today. I will miss your smile, your brightness, your love. But if the ultimate gift that life offers us is to soar with the angels, to be in a place that as mortals we only know as heaven, to have eternal bliss, then I am happy for you Aunt Annie, because I know you are there.