The Ecclesiastes (3:1, 2) writer noted the temporality of our life on earth: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die." Some sayings I've heard said in relation to death:
- We all have to die sometime
- The only sure thing in life is death and taxes
- She won't have to suffer any more
- God must have wanted her in heaven
- It must have been her time
In our trying to comfort we might resort to these or other phrases thought to help and provide an expression of our understanding. But let's be really real, for those who love a person and are left behind - there is grief, pain, and a sense of loss. The only expression that really empathizes with those who are grieving: Death sucks....
What a difference a year makes. In the last 10 months, we lost Uncle Bob and Saturday night we lost our beloved Aunt Gin. My mother lost her brother-in-law and her baby sister. My cousins Janet and Debbie lost their father and mother. My brothers and I lost our Uncle Bob and Aunt Gin. Death sucks....
Every year we would load up the car to travel to North Dakota and then Colorado to see Uncle Bob, Aunt Gin, and my cousins. For Mom, this was nonnegotiable - she wanted to spend time with her sister and wanted us kids to know each other. I heard often about how we're a small family - this is all the family we have. Things I loved about our time together:
- Gift of gab, ready conversationalists - We can talk about anything and everything. And, if we really don't know what we're talking about, we talk about it anyway having a knack for cussing and discussing and a love for hanging out together. My husband affectionately dubs our family "The Hemingway of BS" for the way we can speak 'authoritatively' about a topic we know nothing or little about. When together, awkward silences simply aren't a factor.
- Curious with a sense of humor - We love to laugh, poke fun, use sarcasm - laughter is a ready part of our time together. We aren't exactly demure laughers either - we're loud when we're all together, each with a laugh that comes from the gut.
- Obsessive about good food! - We're the kind of family who over Thanksgiving lunch is planning what to do with leftovers. Mashed potatoes can be translated into potato pancakes. Turkey can be BBQ'd. We love to cook and eat together, share our favorite recipes, would probably punch in the throat a picky eater, and saw the importance of family saying a prayer and eating together.
- Good people - I claim this for us. We're just down to earth, good, solid people. Hard working, fun, and caring for others and our community.
Aunt Gin had such a great smile - I loved her curiosity and peacefulness. We could talk about anything and share a good laugh or sit in silence and be okay. Yesterday - I cried and cried. For one thing, she loved the Broncos (grin) and for another this deep sense of loss like I don't quite know what to do, as though something has come unmoored. Often times when I would call Daddy - about half way through he would say, I thought I was talking to Virginia, he thought our voices were similar. So many trips to Rocky Mountain National Park with Uncle Bob and Aunt Gin, cooking out, eating watermelon, thinking about food and time together. I can't quite get a grip around the idea that they are both now gone... Death sucks. ...
To my beautiful cousins - no words come. I don't know what to think or say. This year has been difficult - I cannot get my mind around this and have no words for my grief. Surrounding you with prayers, virtual hugs, and all the love I have. Death sucks...
Uncle Bob used to bring watermelon every time I saw him. For some reason, I associate Aunt Gin with pimiento cheese spread. I wonder how often we said something like, "I could eat this whole thing"! So to celebrate, I am making pimiento cheese spread:
- 1 4-oz jar pimientos drained and chopped
- 1/4 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 pound grated Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 2 TBS mayonnaise
- 1 TBS white vinegar
- Salt to taste
Mix all ingredients together, eat with crackers, make a sandwich, or just dip your finger in and get a big scoop.
Our ritual when parting was a hug and a kiss and me saying: I love you Aunt Gin. Her reply: I love you too honey.
I love you Aunt Gin. Silence. Death sucks. And with this silence we are filled with unfathomable grief.