Learning To Love You More




Assignment #31
Spend time with a dying person.

Laura Stirewalt
Portland, Oregon USA



My aunt was in bed, this was a hospice house, she was surrounded by all her pictures of daughter's, grand babies and her husband. My Uncle died two years ago, he shot himself. I really want to tell this story I mean this is my family legacy. There are so many parts though. The part where this weekend I hung out with all my family saying goodbye to my aunt in what was a celebration of life. Afterwards I went with all my cousins and brothers and we drank. We danced; we held each other and vowed never to stay away from each other again. We held each other close like lovers holding on not letting go.
When I went to my uncles' funeral he was running around, his spirit with his eye hanging out like he looked in the hospital, he moved around like a Tasmanian devil. I pushed his face back together, I opened a doorway for him to walk through, I showed him where to go and that it was time to leave this place. He left, later my friend who is a sensitive told me that he was taking classes now on how not to kill himself, that when I felt suicidal that I could talk to him and get tips on how not to kill myself.
She held me two weeks ago she held me, I cried and said I was sorry for staying away so long that she was a good aunty a good mother. I cried and told her that it had been so hard and that was the only reason that I would stay away like I did. That I always appreciated her truthfulness, that fact that she was real.
I spoke at her funeral; I talked about when we were children that we would play a game called kiss the Christmas tree. After the parents had put us to bed we would take turns running out and kissing the tree, my aunt would chase us back in the room screaming that we were bloody little buggars and she was going to beat us with her wooden spoon. She never caught me. Only at her house did I believe in Santa Clause.
That night after her funeral, I mean celebration of life, after the bar and the dancing I was standing around the kitchen that my aunt and uncle had left behind and my cousin lee told me this story. When our Grandfather was a boy he went with his older brother to go swimming one day. It was the beginning of the season and they had not swam yet, his brother jumped in first and landed in the middle of a water moccasin ball, a big ball of snakes. They killed him while my grandfather watched, my grandfather ran back and told his mother and she told him that she wished it would of been him instead. When my brother heard my cousin tell this story he started yelling that he was pissed and that it was stupid that one thing that some bitch said would change the history, would trickle down and affect too many lives. Could this be true, I know that something had to have happened to her. But from that my Grandfather never recovered, he ended up schizophrenic and became institutionalized. He left when my daddy was at a tender age, thirteen, people use to say he was like his father, he thought that meant he was crazy. He fought drank, raged. My uncle mike is also schizophrenic; he was homeless for a while like me. My Uncle Bill who killed himself told his psychiatrist before he died that he felt like he was going crazy like his father and he didn't want to live a life like that, he didn't want to be that, so they all fall down.
But we are left behind now, do I have to die inside, do we have to feel shame for pain that holds on to us like our only memory. I hope not. Sometimes when I feel real bad inside I try to think of reasons that all this may have happened, ways that I am special after living through all this pain. Like that flood that brought that nest of water moccasins into my grandfathers swimming hole really was a wish for my family to find out how much we can endure and what we can make from it. Sometimes I feel like curling up and dying, I think of slashing my wrists so much, but I found out that means I am low in serotonin, so I take 5htp now and I don't think about it so much, I know when I start thinking about slitting my wrists its time to take more serotonin.
Her oldest daughter sang at her wake, sang her favorite song, arms of an angel. It was beautiful; when I went to tell her I told her I could imagine her mother and father standing next to her. I thought it was a compromise to say I imagined instead of I saw them. She looked me straight in the eyes and I felt like she saw her mother looking back at her through me. She told me at the bar that I remind her of her mom, I don't really get this since she was a conservative English woman, but my mom said that in her country she was a rebel, and at first when we were little her way of saying whatever was on her mind shocked many people. I didn't mean to freak her out, I guess sometimes I am just lonely and wish I could tell people about the conversations I have with my friends and family that have passed on, it really just weirds them out, makes me look crazy.
She was a good Aunt though, I feel better after this weekend, I remembered how much I love my family, something about them fills in my parts that are missing. Thank you Aunti for giving this to me, I love you. She says she loves me too.