Thirteen years ago, on the day after Christmas, my aunt Ka died. It was sudden and unexpected. She suffered a brief illness and then swiftly was gone, and it broke my heart.
On Saturday night, as Mark was showering and getting ready to go to my family Christmas party, I received word that his favorite aunt had passed, suddenly and tragically. I had a few minutes with the news myself before he came out of the bathroom, and I struggled with what to say to him. I remembered the morning after Christmas, 6am, when Sharon (my other mother) came in the door to find me sleeping on the sofa. Mom was bereft. Sharon was the one who told me Ka was gone. She barely needed to say anything, really. I already knew. In the same way that my husband already knew when he came into the bedroom and I said “you need to call your mom.”
Mark went to the party anyways, and I don’t know how he did it. He did pull me aside at one point and tell me that K seemed particularly sensitive to his feelings…she knew. She was sitting beside me when he mother texted. She made sure he got a hug every twenty minutes. In the morning, we went to Tim Horton’s and she ordered two cookies. I was about to give a heavy mom-speech about sugar when she turned to me and said “peanut butter are dad’s favorites. That will cheer him up.”
I expected Mark to check out from life for a day or so as that is his usual MO when someone dies, but instead he went hard on the Dad thing. He woke up and played video games with the girls, then put up their new beds and helped them set up their room. He picked out a menu for a dinner they could make together, and we went to the store to get ingredients. We returned to him watching the Bills game, and inviting Kevin over for dinner. He then proceeded to make some amazing spaghetti and meatballs, and then whipped out the Monopoly board. He tried to go to sleep early but couldn’t, so we ended up staying up late watching Knives Out (great flick) and then I went to bed. I awoke this morning to find the whole house asleep…STILL asleep actually, it’s now almost noon. So, I can only assume they stayed up watching movies after I went to sleep.
Mark said to me at one point that he just wanted to have a good weekend for his girls, and wanted to deal with the grief afterwards. So of course, I expect some sort of meltdown at some point, but I don’t think it will be that bad, honestly. I think that having his daughters around for this shocking and sad thing has really helped him. We hardly ever have just the two of them, but I think the universe knew that’s who Mark needed right now and made it happen. He would call this nonsense, but I have enough belief in the spiritual for the both of us.
I was really sad on Saturday night. I cried at the party maybe three times, and not because of his aunt, whom I have never met, but my own, whom I miss terribly. Usually I function with the idea that she is away on a long missionary trip to the Philippines or something. Sometimes the delusion wears thin, and that’s when the tears come. Still, I think of everything she did for me, and everything she wanted for me, and how much she loved me, and I feel at peace. But that took time. I hope Mark gets there-I know he will. But, it will take time.