I lost my aunt yesterday. And tonight, right now, I am typing this lying in her bed. We left this morning for the eight hour drive to New Mexico. Family was already here when we arrived. It was so strange walking into her house expecting her to appear around every corner. I feel so strange. I haven't lost anyone in several years and I don't remember this feeling. It's not the sad part, I know that feeling, I can interpret that feeling. It's this odd space where everything feels like she should be here. I am surrounded by her things, food that she bought still fills the fridge, her car is in the drive way, I am staring across the room at her hairspray on the dresser. I keep having these moments where tears spring to my eyes and that sadness lump fills my throat, but for the most part I have this odd, I don't understand death, feeling. I guess it just doesn't feel permanent yet.
I love this photo of her. Her high school graduation photo I think. She looks beautiful. She was a grandmother type for me. My cousin Chris and I could do no wrong. We would run like banshees through the house, chase her dog, screaming all the way I am sure. My Uncle Clyde would yell at us, but not Aunt Millie. She would feed us anything we wanted. I remember driving here with a friend when I was in college. I brought my laundry from the dorm and she washed it all. She asked what we wanted to eat. Onion rings. She made THE best onion rings. And of course she made them.
As we age we transition from one phase of life to the next with out a lot of knowledge of it happening. Aside from things like graduations we just go from child to adult fairly seamlessly. But losing Aunt Millie feels like I am having to let go of my last grasp on my childhood. The Christmas dinners around her table with my great grandmother, my grandmother, my great aunts and uncles and cousins, the hot summers sitting on the patio listening to the adults "visit", the laughter and the story telling, the traditions that only belonged to my family and to me...I had a wonderful childhood and a wonderful family.