I was 13 when she died. My beautiful, spunky, intelligent aunt. She was diagnosed in October 1995.
She died on March 17, 1996.
The word burns the back of my throat.
I remember my grandparents at her funeral. Their only daughter's funeral. My father held them up as he grieved alongside them. His sister was gone. 11 years her junior, he had been the worst little brother. An annoying, rambunctious pint-sized bully he was, but she loved him.
Ashamedly, I remember my 17 year old self, chattering to my parents about my grieving grandparents from the back seat after a trip to their home. 'They still have you, dad. They still have a son. They need to move on for you.'
I am choking on those words now...how could a self centered 17 year old know so much about the grief of losing a child? I didn't.
I thought I understood. I thought because I had grieved my aunt's passing and my grandfather's and a dear friend's at the age of 15...I thought I knew.
But I didn't.
And I wouldn't until the day my son went home to Heaven.
I am so thankful that I kept my big mouth shut when I was around my grandparents. They didn't need my egotistical nonsense.
I remember you, Lynn. I remember your hilarious, infectious laugh and the sparkle in your eyes when you smiled. I remember the perfection with which you braided my difficult hair. I remember the time I woke up to your loud raucous the morning you burnt breakfast. I can still picture you standing on the chair outside my door wafting the smoke away from the beeping fire alarm with a broom. We made eye contact and you burst out laughing.
I won't forget you, Lynn.
I will remember.