My dear aunt, Marguerite Broyles, died on December 6, 2011. That hard fact crushes my heart every time I acknowledge it. Today the fact that we've started a new year and she isn't in seems unbelievably daunting.
On the other hand I'm am so grateful to have had a wonderful relationship with her and countless memories of joy and love. While her cancer was brutal, it provided an opportunity for me to spend more time with her over the last two and a half years than I would have otherwise. We did yoga and energy work, had pedicures, ate yummy lunches, read poetry, laughed, cried, and spent many hours exploring the meaning of it all. She was also able to get to know my boys even better and inspire and foster their own creativity.
In October we had a little send off party for her as she ended her cancer treatments and headed off to get the most out of the time she had left. Along with laughing, eating, wearing sparkly bracelets and bindis, we wrote her a note on sweet little scrolls my stellar shopper cousin discovered. It was hard to get started, knowing it might be the last thing I ever wrote to her.
I laughed at myself as I realized all the memories I was writing were about food...a giant (to my little girl eyes) wooden bowl full of cherries in her kitchen, summertime Coke Slurpies on the way to lake in the huge Pontiac Bonneville I would later drive as a teenager, crusty bread and chunk of Jarlsberg cheese, Christmas Eve shrimp (in my pre-vegetarian days), and biscuits and egg gravy on Christmas mornings, yum!
When just over a month later we realized she was in her last days, I was so fortunate (thanks Mom!) to be able to spend a few days with her holding her hand, chanting to her, giving her Jin Shin treatments and just being with her. I was also blessed to spend those days with my dear cousins, my other fabulous Aunt and Uncle, and playing princess and doing "crafts" with her darling granddaughter, Madi.
The kicker came this weekend as I began taking down the decorations. It was as if I was saying goodbye with each item I packed away, a task for which I was not prepared. Talk about an opportunity to practice letting go!!
I'd been in an emotional fog for the past few weeks, having noticed Christmas Eve that it had lifted when I hadn't even really known it was there in the first place. I just knew I could only process a day or two at a time, so planning for holiday gatherings was a bit of a challenge.
The process of packing away each item, each little piece of her, allowed me to truly grieve and release so many of those tears that had been waiting around for me to notice them. I was both heartbroken and full of gratitude, knowing that each year all of those pieces of her will return to our home surrounding us in her light and beauty.
Now, as I walk around my house I continue to see her everywhere, in places I hadn't noticed in awhile. The little driftwood house on the mantel made from her beloved beach in Puerto Morales. The metal and rock person sitting above the desk from her scrounging through hardware store days. The quote on the bathroom wall - "Go in the direction of your dreams, the universe will support you." The countless beaded necklaces and bracelets she made me for my birthdays over the years. The art she made from a silly conversation with my boys this fall, "Peace, it's what's for dinner," and "Got Peace?" And finally the Colorado key chain she made in the 1980's that I touch and carry with me every day. Her diverse and boundless creative inspiration has decorated my life.
In the hospital one day during her battle with the ovarian cancer, that finally took her life but ironically gave me many wonderful hours with her, she asked me why everyone kept coming to see her. She was truly astonished that she meant so much to so many. I told her, "It's because you accept us all as we are, unconditionally."
She was that person for so many of us. The one whose face lights up when she sees you, has nothing but good things to say about you, is always interested in and excited about what you are doing, and who never doubts that your dreams can come true. She had her many flaws as all of us do, but she was perfectly herself and we couldn't ask for anything more. We all need that person in our lives who gives us the gift of loving us for our true authentic selves. I am honored and grateful and blessed to have had her as my adventurous, creative, smiling, laughing, dancing, singing, amazing aunt.
I am saying goodbye to her body, but not to her spirit. It lives on through her beautiful art and through each of us. May we pass that grace on to others in our lives, offering a shining light to them.
With gratitude and love, Namaste my dear Aunt Mag.