Last week I had to say goodbye to a loved one. Sunday night (September 16th) I received a phone call letting me know that my great aunt had passed away, and while I was shocked, it was hardly shocking news. My aunt, Josephine, had suffered from dementia for the past three and a half years, and for as long as I can remember her life had been peppered with various health ailments. She had been mourning the loss of her husband for the past ten years and had been looking forward to joining him.
She was a woman who devoted her life to her family. She raised my father and his sister, my aunt Cindy, so that my grandmother could work. She took care of me and my cousins so that our mothers could work as well. She loved her pets (dogs, cats, birds, and whatever strays wandered into the yard), she was a great cook, collected angels, and was hooked on her soap operas.
So how do you say goodbye to someone who played such a major role in your life? I probably spent 90% of my childhood at her house, she was there the day I was born, she was there when I graduated from high school and college, and every important event in my life. She held my hand when I was sick or scared, and she shared my joy on some of my happiest days.
So how do you say goodbye? Maybe you don't. Maybe you just celebrate the life they lived and know that they're finally where they want to be. You are relieved that they are no longer in pain. You realize that you will miss them and that holidays won't be the same without them, but at the same time they're never really completely gone as long as you hold them in your heart. They're never gone as long as when you think of them it brings a smile to your face. It's never goodbye, it's always thank you for loving me and I'll see you on the other side.