We missed her by forty-five minutes.
I don’t check Facebook all that often, but since it’s the primary way my sisters and I communicate with one another, I try to remember to check it once or twice a week. Yesterday a group message from one of my sisters informed us all that our beloved Aunt Stella was dying.
So this morning one of my sisters and I drove an hour out to see her to say goodbye. We missed her by forty-five minutes. Our Aunt’s happy, social, fun, full life was over.
The hospice nurse was still there when we arrived. She told us that our Aunt went very peacefully. And that she really enjoyed caring for her because she was so much fun. Just two weeks ago she said Stella was all dressed up and heading out with some friends to a reunion. Today she is reunited with her husband in heaven.
We missed our cousins by just a minute, the nurse said. Two of them had been there with her when she passed. They must have been pulling out as we pulled in. One was heading to the airport to catch a flight back to Santa Fe.
We learned that there will be no funeral or memorial service. Stella’s five kids are scattered – one in New Mexico, one in Arizona, one in Colorado, one in Michigan and one in New York.
So that was it – our one last look at her and our one chance to say good-bye.
My sister and I kissed her forehead and told her how much we love her. I hope she could feel our love all the way in heaven. The hospice nurse invited us to stay for awhile but there was no point, Aunt Stella wasn’t there. We were very grateful for the kindness the nurse showed us and especially for the kindness she showed our Aunt.
From the nursing home we drove to nearby Fenton and had lunch at The Laundry. Afterward we walked a few blocks to The Crust. Stella was a wonderful baker so we bought baked goods to take home, as a tribute to her. (Since tomorrow is National Doughnut Day, I bought a couple of doughnuts for the hub and I to have with our morning coffee, and a pain au chocolate for my daughter because that’s her favorite.)
As my sister and I walked along the river, we reminisced about all the childhood fun we had at Aunt Stella’s house. We remembered last autumn when we took her to lunch and how she laughed and took it in stride when she wet her pants as she got up from the table to leave.
It isn’t tragic to lose an Aunt who was in her eighties and who had lived a fun, full life. But it is the end of an era. And we will miss her.
And as we reached my car, we both resolved to live our lives to the fullest, too.