I knew the second I saw the message at 7:23 a.m. today that Kate was gone. I didn’t need to read it.
My fiancé delayed heading to Long Island to see her so that he could comfort me over the loss of my aunt Debra last week. But, last night his mother and I urged him to head out after work to visit her. When he called me at 2:14 a.m., I woke up out of a deep sleep. I thought he was going to tell me she passed. But she hadn’t, not yet. Hours later his text told me my earlier gut feeling was right. His beloved aunt, Kate, and my honorary aunt had left us, at least in body.
Most people don’t know that when my fiancé proposed to me on Christmas Day year’s ago she was with us too, if only in spirit. She was one of the main reasons he chose a Claddagh ring with an emerald and small diamonds for me. Kate had one when he was young and told him that it meant love, loyalty and friendship. She taught him so many things including a love for animals, compassion for those who are less fortunate, an intense love for family, that blood isn’t that only thing that binds you to another person and the power of being brutally honest.
Kate and I hit it off immediately. I saw myself in her and vice versa. I may be a 5’9” black woman and her a 5’1” Irish woman but inside we were alike. My fiancé noticed our similarities too. He told her so when he called her to tell her we were engaged. He broke down in tears telling her how much she influenced his life. He also told her that he knew I was the one because I reminded him of her.
I’m glad we went to see her a few weeks ago when she was in a nursing facility. She was sharp. She was smiling and she was talking about heading home. She got to go home one last time. I know she was at peace because of it.
I will miss her at every family gathering. And, I will especially miss her on the day we officially tie the knot. But she wouldn’t want us to be sad. So I’ll try to dry my tears. I’ll pray while reciting this old Celtic blessing:
“May God give you…
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.”
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