Why do people die in December? Why does everyone decide to leave earth in December? Because the Christians are singing about a birth? Because families are together and can support each other? Because it’s cold?
My Aunt Marcella decided it was time to leave this earth today. You know my Aunt Marci. I wrote about her.
My mom texted me this morning with the news as I was entering a long, difficult, detailed meeting. I didn’t have time to think or process this news. I called my husband as soon as I got out and we met at Starbucks to talk through it. His eyes teared up as I bawled in front of strangers in the coffee shop. I recounted stories about her and my Uncle Charles. “She was like my Grandma, such a classy lady,” I hear myself saying through sobs, “and I am honored to have had her influence in my life.” I told him stories he has heard before, stories of childhood and of recent trips to see her as she aged.
She was old when I knew her as a six year old. I have memories of my Uncle Charles and Aunt Marcella’s house before my sister was born. I have memories of my sister and I doing handstands in the grass in their backyard. I remember Uncle Charle’s cane, a motorcycle accident had taken his ability to walk well, and his teasing. I remember our parents laughing openly with them at the table. I remember my Grandma and Grandpa animatedly chatting. I remember the way my dad would light up in their presence and I remember being very little, and then very much an adult, all in the presence of these same people.
My sister called to see how I was doing. We both cried on and off remembering part of our childhood. I told her how odd I thought it was that our anniversary card was two days late this year. “I mean, not that I’ve *ever* remembered to send anything on time but Aunt Marci gets it right EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. How does she know when to send the card so it shows up exactly on time?”
“She’s magic,” my sister explains. “She simply is magic.”
“This is the most logical thing I’ve heard all day,” I replied. I mean it.
I came home to tear in to my Grandma’s journal, the most cherished possession I own, the entire history of my family from my Grandmother’s view. There are countless stories and photos of Marci and Charles. We are all there, in print, in these three ring binders that hide safely in my old suitcase full of photos and memorabilia. While we plan for flights hoping to attend her memorial, I thumb through pages of life and smile at memories. I read my Grandmother’s writing and I alternate between sobbing and resolve. I resolve to be the Aunt Marci to my family, to sign a letter in the mail on their birthdays and anniversaries. I resolve to write our life in a three ring binder for my Grandchildren to find comfort in when the rest of us take our leave. I resolve to say I love you more. I resolve not to let Delta Flight costs stop me from seeing my Texas family. I resolve to eat less dairy and work out so I can live forever, like Rob Low.
I scan photos of her, I am disappointed I don’t have as many photos with her in my house, but I know they are there at my parent’s house. I resolve to go there, to gather pieces of my history, to capture my parent’s stories and to walk in the footsteps of my Aunt Marci and my Grandmother: Two of the influentially classiest ladies in my life. I resolve to be your Aunt Marci. Even though I said I wouldn’t.
Mostly I resolve to honor my Aunt Marci in this letter. I resolve to let her live forever in our hearts, in our cards, and in the post office’s delivery system. I resolve to be as magical one day as she was, with her help. With her love. With her wit.
A card that needs a bit of magic to be delivered but I’m sure she knows this is written to her and it will arrive in time, as hers always did:
Dear Aunt Marcella,
Were your ears burning? We were just talking about you. We always tell the kids about you when you send cards for their birthdays. I’m sorry you haven’t met them in person. We missed you by a few weeks. We had hoped to come visit you before… well, we know you’ve lived a long and lovely life and we wanted to be sure to see you before you were done living that long and lovely life.
I’m sorry we missed you.
Your anniversary card is still sitting by our candy houses. It sits there like a memory of you while we sneak pieces of graham cracker and candy after dinner. It’s a joyful place.
I always smile when I see your cards, reliably on time, every single Anniversary, Easter, Birthday, Christmas. I bawled the first time I opened the card to see only your name and not Uncle Charle’s. I thought that day was hard. I was wrong. This day is so. so. much harder.
I’m sorry you won’t see our Christmas card this year. I’m sorry we didn’t get it to you before now. The kids are big, deargod did you know kids grow? My how they grow. Lauren, the baby you made all those knitted blankets for, who still sleeps with them sometimes at night and asks me about you, is in fifth grade. Marci, *I* remember fifth grade! I remember being at your daughter’s wedding in fifth grade. I remember dancing on my Uncle Greg’s feet. I remember the boy who wanted my photo and I remember you and Grandma smiling at each other and me. I blushed. I remember feeling thankful you never said a word about that.
I’m thankful for a lot of things you’ve done in my life.
I remember being at your house in San Antonio as a girl. I remember how Uncle Charles would get so upset at my dad for pronouncing “pecan” like a northerner. We are a southern folk, dammit, and that is NOT how you say Pecan!
I know my kids had no chance of meeting Uncle Charles. He was my other Grandpa, since he was my Texas Grandpa and Grandpa was the north one.
I was so hoping my kids would see you. I was hoping they would see the person who sent the cards, who sent the handmade blankets, who saw their photos and their drawings. I’m sorry we missed you.
I will try not to cry the first few holidays without your card and scribbled “With love,” in the bottom.
Happy Christmas, Aunt Marci. I hope you and Grandma, Grandpa, and Uncle Charles are dancing in the stars. We will look for you on clear nights and know you’re sending your love, via cards and scribbled handwriting, every holiday, birthday, and anniversary. Thank you for always remembering. It’s our turn to remember you now.
With so much eternal love, wrapped in a handmade blanket,
All of us.