I became a grown-up the other day. Just by chance, in passing. I didn't realize that I would know the exact moment it would happen in the way that I did.
You assume, you go along. You celebrate birthday after birthday. And you reach the milestones
And you find out all those things.
That no one ever tells you.
My aunt is one of those women who conjures up, to me, an old-school type of person, in all the positive nuances of that label; one who sees the world, and all of its' paradoxical nonsense and utterly devestating moments with unobscured vision, a clear head, and a sense of purpose that borders on the divine.
She gets excited over current events (as do I. as does my father. I am convinced this is some sort of Irish way-of-life). She spouts out quotes (as do I. as does my father. see previous sentence for my point-of-view on this particular character trait..).
She doesn't mince words. But she knows when to hold back.
She once said to me, that if you don't have courage in this life, nothing else counts. Guess what?
She once said to me, that if you can get through this life without losing a child, or without anything else completely distastrous happening to you--then you got off easy.
At the time of both these utterances, I was in my late-twenties, maybe early-thirties; far too tender to understand the underlying truth to both of these shatteringly accurate statements.
We have our discourse. I love her beyond reason.
And now my father is sick. My father; her little brother.
I can't take my fear to my mother, I can't lay this on her right now. She is in denial, a denial that she is fully and completely entitled to.
The other night, I took my fear to my aunt on the long-distance line.
Not sure what my first turn into this conversation was. Maybe talking about my dad's impending treatment. Maybe going to lunch with my mother and sister, and sitting at a table for four, with one seat empty. But somewhere along the line, during our phone call, I went to the fear place.
So did my aunt.
She listened to me cry; albeit in a hysterical, gasping-for-breath fashion. Then she talked about how my dad was determined, in his stubborn Scorpio "I-can-take-care-of-myself" fashion, to take the GO train to his treatment.
And she said, "And he drove to the GO train station to see what it all entailed...." and suddenly her words fell off; she was crying, high-pitched, agonizing; sobs for her little brother. I have never, not in person or on the phone, heard or seen my aunt cry. It stilled me to my soul.
It was then that I realized; that is how much she trusts me; with her feelings, with her pain, with the burden of what she is carrying.
I won't lie. I continued to cry right along with her. But this time, I realized after; I was not crying as that little girl, her niece. I was crying as her equal--in the reality of the situation, in the prison of our shared experience.
Her little brother; my father. Who had children so young, he should be entitled to enjoy his grandchildren and see them graduate from university.
So that 's how it happened---out of nowhere, from that place where life likes to whip that curveball right at your head. Christmas; together as a family, enjoying amazing food and drinks with my then-boyfriend's family; to Family Day, a lovely lunch, the four of us, our family of origin, me, my dad, mom, and my sister.
To today and to tomorrow. To cancer treatment, and outcomes, and stages, and predicitons.
Ah courage. Don't leave me now.