Special people come into our lives and touch our hearts deeply. They change us forever and when they leave us, they leave behind a big part of themselves deep in our souls. Losing someone so unique is hard and the grief doesn’t go away easily. The most comfort you can find for such a loss is knowing that God had blessed you with his or her sweet memories.
Many who marry into a family dread their in-laws. I know several people who say they have the in-laws from hell, but I say just the opposite. I was lucky to marry into a wonderful family. My husband was raised by his grandma and she passed before I met him. His grandma was his mom. Lou found motherly love after his grandmother’s death in his Aunt Fay. So when I married Lou Aunt Fay became not only an aunt, but my mother-in-law.
I had talked to Aunt Fay several times on the phone before we were married, but I’ll never forget the day I finally met her face to face. It was at our wedding rehearsal. When she and Uncle Rich arrived at the church, Lou and I greeted them in the parking lot. Aunt Fay wrapped her arms around me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. She hugged me like she had always known me. She, right then and there, even though she barely knew me, welcomed me into her family.
The first time I flew to Georgia to spend a week with Aunt Fay and Uncle Rich I was nervous. I was afraid they might not like me after they spent time with me. I feared I’d feel out of place and I wouldn’t fit in. I was totally wrong. The moment we stepped off the airplane, I was welcomed with opened arms. When we arrived at their house, Aunt Fay made me feel at home. She told me her home was my home. When I sat with her and her sons’ spouses, she made sure I was always a part of the conversations. I never felt left out. Sometimes with people on my side of the family I feel like I’m invisible to them, but I never felt that with Aunt Fay, Uncle Rich, and their family.
Through the years I adored Aunt Fay more and more. Each time we talked to her on the phone, she would always say, “Hug yourselves for me.” Those words made me feel like she was giving me a hug through the phone. I could picture her arms around me. She was always willing to listen to me and asked me about my job and writing.
While I struggled with breast cancer last year she encouraged me, listened, and told me how brave I was. Aunt Fay told me to make sure I kept her informed on everything that I was going through: the surgeries, recuperation and treatments. Each time I talked to her, she would tell me she loved me and to hug myself. I felt very important to her and her comforting words helped me through a very rough time.
During one of our visits to Georgia, Aunt Fay took me to get a haircut. Aunt Fay sat in a chair across from mine while the stylist worked on my hair. The stylist talked to me and Aunt Fay. She asked Aunt Fay how she knew me. Aunt Fay replied, “She’s my niece.” That meant the world to me. She gave me something I had been missing for a while, an aunt (mother-in-law) who truly loved me for who I am, flaws and all. I wasn’t just her nephew’s wife, I didn’t just marry into her family, but I was officially a part of her family.
Aunt Fay was a strong, loving, and beautiful person. Kindness radiated from her. It was in her smile, in her gentle words, and in the way she just gave to the people around her. She spoiled me and my husband with love and generosity. Whenever we needed help, she was there, even when we didn’t ask for it. She just gave selflessly to us and everyone around her.
I’m so grateful that I had Aunt Fay in my life for twelve years. She meant the world to me and I already miss her. When I was told New Year’s Day she had passed, my heart shattered. In the days following, I’ve been in a depression. My husband lost a mother figure and aunt and I lost a mother-in-law figure and aunt. Slowly I’m fighting my sadness and filling my heart with my memories of her. I thank God for putting her in my life and I feel comfort knowing she’s in heaven with the love of her life, Uncle Rich.
In time my grief will fade, but Aunt Fay will always be with in my heart. I find comfort knowing my aunt is dancing with her true love in God’s light.