Thursday, November 05, 2015

Autumn in New York

I've been putting off blogging for months because I needed to write this post but it was too hard, and then everything sort of backed up because I felt like I needed to write this one first.

My beloved Aunt Pam died in April. In August, I flew to New York to join my mom in helping my uncle go through her things. It was a very emotional weekend. I honestly don't know what to write because the emotions are still so raw for me even months later. I have been missing her so much this week, probably because I have been so worried about running a marathon with a pre-existing injury and I know exactly what she'd say to me and I keep expecting to see an email from her in my inbox and nothing is there. And then I check my email a few hours later and still nothing is there, and I get choked up all over again.

Blogging has been really hard for me since she died. As I've written before, she always, always, always emailed me or commented on every post, and it's heart-breaking for me all over again when I post something and there is nothing from her. So I've just stopped posting.

My mom wrote an email to the rest of our family after we returned home about the time we spent going through her things and packing them up, and I wanted to quote a bit of it here:

"Over the next few days I learned more about her than I've ever known--about her last days, about the years of illness, but also about her love for the color purple and dragonflies, about the way she organized the makeup on her vanity, about her favorite color in socks and her exquisite taste in jewelry and clothes. I learned that in her last days she told Kevin the things that she wanted each of you to have; that she sent him home to find the exact purse for Elise, and the jeweled hair clip that she wanted Kevin to put inside it. She wanted Ruth to have the perfume set from Paris and Mary Beth to have her long Anne Klein coat for the cold winters, and Rosalind to have her art supplies. She wanted Rachael to have her car, so that Rachael's children would be safe in a newer car with all-wheel drive for the winters. She wanted me to have her red alligator purse. And she wanted all of us to share the earrings and hair clips and coats and sweaters that she loved.
Kevin described how specific she was about each item, that she would check to make sure he had set aside the right ones, that he would call her at hospice and she would direct him where to find each thing and make sure it was the right one. And after that first night I felt her love and approval, her assurance that she wanted the things she loved to go to the people she loved."

Mom & I drove home together in her car, which she had given to me. It's a beautiful car, and on the visor is a beautiful pewter angel holding the pink cancer ribbon. It feels very much to me as if she is smiling down on me whenever I drive that car.

She loved dragonflies and the color purple. I took a bag of her jeans home with me to make a quilt for my uncle. As I was planning out the quilt I remembered that I had one tiny scrap left of the purple dragonfly fabric I had used to make Abigail's quilt 8 years ago.

We've seen more dragonflies in our backyard this summer than we ever have before. My kids were keeping a running total until the day when it was finally too cold for them to be out. My very favorite was the day Juliet was baptized--an enormous dragonfly came inside and spent the afternoon buzzing around the ceiling while we were all gathered together in the living room. 


I stayed with my parents for another couple of nights after we came home from New York. The day after we arrived, I got up early to go do my 20-mile run in the rain. It was pretty miserable weather, but my dad came with me and biked next to me the whole way. I was so grateful to him for being there and so visibly showing his love for me. He isn't one to keep up a monologue, but he worked so hard at talking to me and keeping me engaged so that I wouldn't think about how much I was hurting--when we got home he made me hot chocolate. A few days before, my mom came with me on a 10-mile run in New York and then stopped at Panera to buy me a green smoothie on the way home. I kept thinking all weekend how grateful I am for so many people in my life who love me and want to take care of me, and who want me to be safe and feel loved. (I cried so much that weekend.)

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I've been thinking about her so much this week. I've been so worried about this race. And tonight for the first time I'm finding a kind of peace when thinking about the race as I also think about her and the years that she battled cancer, and the way she always admonished me to take care of myself even as she was suffering so much.

I've been thinking a lot since she died about how I could somehow honor her memory, and tonight I thought that I will run this race for her the way that she would want me to run it--I will push through and persevere when I can, but I will also be kind to myself and acknowledge if I am doing more harm than good, and then I'll do what I know she would tell me to do.


Neil said...

I love you sweetheart.

Tia said...

I only know you through your blog, but this post made me cry. Your aunt sounds like she was an amazing woman, and I love picturing how she wanted everything perfectly ready for all of you when she passed.

Meghan said...

Thank you for a beautiful tribute. I love you, and I'll be praying for an angel to attend you during the race.

Laura said...

This is going to sound crazy, but even though I only know you through your blog, I started thinking about you today and was not at all surprised to see a new post. (Even though it took two days for the ESP to work, I guess. :) ) Anyway. Your aunt sounds amazing and I love the ways you have chosen to honor her. I'm sure she would be proud and pleased at how you've decided to run your race, both literally and metaphorically

dud said...

Lovely sweetheart. And it was no monologue. You kept up an amazingly fluent conversation over 20 miles--fluent from my perspective anyway.

Rachael said...

Tia and Laura, thank you so much! Wish I knew the two of you IRL. :-)

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