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One More Thing

Life is still crappy. I am still here. I sit with both these things right now.

Super Bowl Sunday brought the news that an accident had landed my aunt in the hospital. Despite my prayers, she passed away a few days later. Somehow, I really thought that losing Kimberly four months ago would protect me from further tragedy for a couple of years. Apparently, it doesn’t work that way.

Anyone who wants to tell me that God won’t give me more than I can handle had better make sure their insurance premiums are paid up first. That conversation is not going to end well for you. I am not handling anything. Only the support of several strong friends stops me from losing it altogether. My life right now is the emotional equivalent of someone breaking her leg during a marathon and being carried across the finish line by other runners. Not exactly a testament to my powers of endurance.

Getting myself to write feels like dragging a ten-ton rock across a desert, but I have to do it. Aunt Nancy championed my book. She bought five copies at a time and handed them out to friends. To stop writing would insult her memory.

I want to write a whole funny blog about her, because my aunt had a great sense of humor, but I can’t right now. The pain takes up too much room in my heart for humor to get through. So instead, I concentrate on her compassion. Nancy would look at you with those big brown eyes behind the large-framed glasses and you’d know you had her full attention. She struggled with depression just like I did. Because of her, I knew I wasn’t a freak. I just had something in my life that I had to deal with, and it could in fact be dealt with. She had days that were better than others, but she kept going, and I could too. She and my uncle treated my visits as gifts, something that they looked forward to and cherished. I can only remember annoying my aunt once – when I asked if I could stay with her on a particular date. “You are always welcome here,” she told me, her voice spiced with pique. “You know that.” She wanted to hear about my travels and what new TV shows I thought were worth watching. She only met my cat once, but she talked about Zoe like family. Presents for Zoe came in the Christmas package along with presents for me. I often spent Thanksgiving at their house. If I could make it, she was thrilled. If I couldn’t, even because I was just tired, she totally understood. She and my uncle came down to visit me every now and again. She was the kind of family that’s also a much-loved friend.

And now I have to do without her.

Maybe considering myself cheated of years with loved ones is selfish. We aren’t any of us promised a certain amount of time on this planet, and God knows many people get fewer years than my aunt did. But right now, the dial on my temperament hovers on selfish, occasionally slipping to self-pitying. At this moment, I feel like every man who ever dumped me was telepathic. Fate seems determined to crown my life a festival of crap and anyone would want to pass on that. Hell, I’d like to pass on it, too. What sane person would sign up for this shit show?

I mentioned this to my pastor. Lyda gave me a sad smile and said, “But to be alive is to sign up for it.” She’s right. I know she’s right.

“God won’t give you more than you can handle” is becoming an obscene phrase in spiritual circles, and I am glad. It’s not true, it’s not Biblical and it’s not kind, really. We say it to protect ourselves. We want to believe that people to whom truly terrible things happen are somehow stronger or better people than we are, because that means those things won’t happen to us.

I am more grateful than I can express to all those friends who continue to invite me into their lives at this moment when I would shut myself away. Some solitude helps, but too much doesn’t, and it’s only because of them that I haven’t gone to the deep end. I sincerely hope that life brings only wonderful things to all of you, but if you fall off your own cliff, I will do my very best to catch you, as you’ve done for me.

In my heart of hearts, I believe that we go on to something better after this life. It’s all that keeps me going, thinking that Nancy, like Kimberly, now lives surrounded by peace and love beyond anything this world has to offer. But I am still not okay with their change of address. As everyone tells me, that doesn’t go away. It evolves, so that eventually you can live with the ache, but it never truly goes away.

My heart will always have spaces just for them, and that is a beautiful thing. Even if the memories hurt, I still want them.

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