Sad news from the Cranky house: I lost one of my aunts this weekend.
It was sudden and unexpected. She had not been ill, but apparently had a fall and died at home in her sleep after, probably from a blood clot that travelled to her heart.
It's the kind of thing that you almost can't believe when you hear. She was there, and then she wasn't. My mom, sister and I can barely wrap our heads around it.
This aunt lived alone and never married, and there was always something child-like and innocent about her. Her death has hit me pretty hard because it seems so very sad to me that she left this world so quietly and so alone.
This will be the third death in my extended Barbourville family in as many years; it's also the third that has happened in September. Wake me up when September ends, indeed.
For the third September in a row, I will be heading "down home" for a funeral of one more person who tied me to my family and to my birthplace. Like the other trips, I will be travelling under beautifully clear late-summer skies and get to see the leaves just starting to change color up in the mountains and hills. But I won't be enjoying the view; one more link to that world and that part of my life is gone. There aren't many left, and they are getting along in years.
Today I am feeling a healthy dose of guilt as a side dish to the usual grief and sadness over a lost life. I didn't go down to visit her often enough; Ainsley doesn't even remember which aunt she was; the last time I did see her, which was last year during a funeral, she asked me to come down some time and "just visit." I didn't, because in my mind I am always too busy to make the three-hour trek; now I find myself needing to make that trek to say goodbye to someone in death who I should have made that same time for when she was alive.
June was a special person, and she will be missed. She had just about the strongest faith in God I've ever seen. She loved the people in her life completely, absolutely, and without judgement. She loved to work crossword puzzles and could cook a Kentucky cornbread and a pot of pinto beans so good it'd make you want to slap yo' momma. And don't even get me started on her sweet tea, made in an ancient Mr. Coffee coffeemaker with just the right ratio of lemon juice and sugar. Try as I might, I can't get mine to taste like hers. It was rare to see her without a wide, gap-toothed smile, and once you got her laughing about something, she couldn't stop and eventually everyone in the room would be laughing with her.
A friend of mine recently told me that every family has a rock and a light. June was our light. Death won't be able to dim it; even as I write this, and my eyes feel full of tears, I can't help but smile thinking about how much joy she carried with her every day.
Surely, she carries that joy with her still.
Goodbye, June. We will miss you so.