I’m going to take you on a journey of a deceased love one. This may not be the right time for you to read this as you may be experiencing the raw emotion that comes with the death of a loved one. Or maybe you feel understood because there is a platform that you can share these deep wounds. Mine has to do with a very special person in my life: My Aunt. Her name was Mary J but she went by her middle name, and I called her Aunt Jennie. How do I first explain this remarkable woman? She was warm like the sun shining on your face on a warm summer day. She was refreshing like an iced filled drink when parched in the race of life. She was gentle and kind like the heart of a flower. She was healing like aloe to sunburn. She was a beacon of light to the unaccepted and suffering. She was pure love and receiving like the innocence of a young child. Yes. She was all of those things. And so much more… but that’s not what this story is about. I have yet to discover anyone remotely like this Aunt of mine so thank you for the ability to indulge and I wanted you, the reader, to have a clear picture of my amazing Aunt. If you ever have the opportunity to be around someone like this drink it up, because it’s rare. Now that you have an image of my endearing Aunt Jennie, please allow me to back up a bit.
My Aunt and I differed on religious practices (she attended Mass every morning), but we connected on a deep spiritual level and for this reason we often spoke of spiritual things. When my Uncle Jerry passed away in 2011 at the age of 75, my Aunt who had been married to her husband well over 50 years was understandably devastated. Although deeply religious and spiritual she struggled for confirmation that Jerry was at peace after his death. Because she watched him suffer for over two years with cancer, up until his dying breath, it was hard to remember his healthy past. Instead of reflecting on the wonderful 50 years of health and vibrancy she could only focus on the demoralizing and retched cancer that consumed him. My husband and I spent ten days with her after she buried the love of her life. And for days, months and even years after, she begged God to show her that he was vibrant in heaven. She never received this message that she hoped and prayed for. She was left to question, which always made me sad.
In August of 2014 my Aunt had a stroke. She lived in Maine, and I here in the Midwest; let’s just say we had many miles between us. I had contact with my cousins and I knew the prognosis was not good. If she did indeed survive she would need a lot of care and maybe never be able to care for herself without assistance. As the oldest of eight brothers and sisters she was the always the caretaker, being taken care of was not a role in which she was comfortable. She was hospitalized for over a week and I prayed for her to be healed.
One evening I was prompted to pray for her. I took out my bible (the one she had given me) and lovingly looked at the words she had written: Sherry-A very special person in my life. I love you. Just as we must eat bread to sustain our physical hunger-so we must invite Jesus into our life daily to sustain our spiritual hunger. May you always hunger and thirst for Him! God bless you. I started praying out loud. I asked God that his will be done. I begged to not let my Aunt suffer and I asked that if healing wasn’t going to happen that He please take her home. As I prayed this prayer the tears ran down my cheeks as they are now reliving this. Suddenly I hear my Aunts voice. And this is what she said in a voice of AWE I can’t even describe with mere words: “It’s soooo beautiful!” She was not talking to me but I could hear these words in her own voice speaking so clearly in my heart that quite honestly it freaked me out a bit. Was I losing my mind? I decided my prayer session was over. I put my bible aside and went to bed. Ten minutes later, my phone rang. I picked up my cell. It was my cousin on the other end, and she said: “She’s gone, she passed ten minutes ago.” And I replied, “I know.” If I could give proper words to the awe in my Aunt’s voice I would. My beautiful Aunt let me witness her passing. Even though we were thousands of miles apart! But this transformed me, I’m no longer afraid of death. And I know my Aunt is still with me as I still feel her loving presence. I also planted a rock garden in her memory. As spring is approaching I decide to see if any of the plants in her garden survived and this is what I found. What do you see?