My uncle sent me this picture yesterday, a snapshot of my Aunt Suzie, my sister Lindsay and me at the happiest place on earth. Suzie died when Margaret was just a baby. But in this picture, just for a moment, she is here. I am six and smiling and we have the whole rest of the day ahead of us. A part of me feels like that day must be being lived somewhere. That across the stars and time, my hands are still sticky from a churro, there are princesses to be met and the promise of one more ride. Funny what a photograph can do.
Suzie was a corker. A red headed fireball that kept a spotless house and talked to little girls like they were somebody that mattered. She never sat down when there was something to do. And there was always something to do. She taught me the importance of a good vacuum and gave me her earrings when I said I liked them. She was flawed and human and just absolutely a joy.
She started getting sick when I was just a kid. And then when Margaret was still brand new, I got a call from my Dad,
Hey, Meggie. We are at Suzie’s. You better come over.
And so we went. Her house was filled with family. There was fried chicken and laughter and there were broken hearts. I took my new little girl in to say goodbye. Sue’s eyes lit up and she reached for her with arms that couldn’t hold their own weight. I am glad Margaret got to feel Suzie’s hand against her cheek.
The aunt that taught me the importance of a good laugh (and she had the best I have ever heard), also taught me that death is a sacred thing. I was blessed to be there the day she left us. She taught me that when the time comes to say goodbye, there can be peace. And that after all the light and darkness of living, it is alright to be called home.
This life gives nearly as much as it takes. I am a mother and wife. I try to stand more than I sit and talk to little girls like they matter. Heavens, I even vacuum once in a while. Viola chatters next to me as I write. Sue would have liked my girls, just the right mix of spark and sweet. I know I will see her again. That she will smile and her arms will be strong enough to pull me close. Until then, I have a photograph.
And the memory of a day that held the promise of one more ride.