I apologize for the long title. I apologize more deeply if this post strays toward being maudlin. But as the Man in Black once said to Princess Buttercup, "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something."
Before we left the United States for two years, we took a big road trip around the country to visit our family. Of course we wanted to see them before we went away. And we recognized that you never know what might happen in two years. We wanted to see everyone while we knew we had the chance to do so.
Yesterday was the first loss of a family member while we have been abroad. My Aunt Lori died. Aunt Lori was a fun woman. She had attitude, though in her time they might have used a term like spunk, or said she was her own person, or that she wasn't afraid to call it as she saw it. Whichever cliche you prefer, Aunt Lori was undoubtedly positive about life, unafraid of most anything, honest, clever, and at times mischievous. I would say "you would've liked her" to spout another cliche. But not knowing which reader is currently reading this post, I can't say that with 100% certainty. So let me say this. Given that you are a random reader reading this, there is a high probability that you would have liked Aunt Lori.
Her death was not a surprise. Aunt Lori has been sick for some time. And it is probably in many ways for the best. My mother tells me that Aunt Lori has just been less and less herself lately. I think she was ready.
I will miss my aunt. But more, I am sad for my cousins: Aunt Lori's children and grandchildren. And I'm sad for my mom, Aunt Lori's sister. I would very much like to be at the funeral, if not for Aunt Lori than for all of them. But that's not realistic. Even if I could afford the flight from the Middle East to the U.S., it would take too long.
Part of this trip was accepting that there would be just these kinds of limitations. And I do accept it. I will let my mind (and if you posit the existence of a spirit, my spirit) be there with my grieving loved ones.
I don't know what happens to us when we die. A lot of people have been posing and investigating that question for a lot of millennia. It's the kind of question that can never have a definitive answer, except to say that seeking the answer and it's accompanying problem of there being any meaning to life is a big part of what makes us human.
But I know some would say that Aunt Lori is now going on a journey of her own. And this one is further and more exciting than my trip to various nations. If that's true, I think it's beautiful. And Aunt Lori will undoubtedly have the best attitude for the trek. Plus, when she reaches her destination, those already there are in for a lot of good times and hearty laughter.
And if there is no such journey, that's okay too. Because those of us who loved Aunt Lori can remember her, reflect on what she meant to us, the things she taught us, and how she helped to shape us.
Goodbye, Aunt Lori. I know you would have contradicted the Man in Black. Sure, you would have agreed that at times life is pain, but most often it's the opposite. And you would have said it, not because you were selling something, but because that's the kind of person you were.