To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Day One Year Ago

My aunt taking over!
It was a year ago I was writing and about to post this blog post about the day I bought my wedding dress. That day was a very happy day with my dear friends Jessica and Cilley Girl. And also it was the last day I ever got to spend with my aunt, who was also my Godmother and the life of every party!  Since that day there have been so many times I wanted to write about it to get it out of my system, but I never have. So if you started reading this and you're like, "whoa, um, no, don't want to read it" that's fine. Every minute is so vivid and I think I just need to get it out. Who knows if I'll even post it, but I have to at least write it.

It was a Tuesday.  That Saturday was the fun day. I made 3 mental notes that night on the way home of things I'd always want to remember, the last of those being the wave.  I watched as my aunt backed out of my drive-way and went on her way home. She was  looking over to me and waving really big with a huge smile on her face.  I remember pausing to take it in because I had this gut feeling that it would be the last time I ever saw her. Monday I talked with my mom about how much fun Las Vegas was going to be with my aunt and how she and I had been planning a trip there together for years, and finally my wedding was the time for it!  But then came Tuesday.

My friend (and co-worker) was at my desk shortly after 10am. My phone rang and I had a bad feeling. Instead of answering like I always do, I didn't. Quickly a message was left and I was able to read it on my screen. It was my cousin's girlfriend. I could tell something was wrong and I did not want to call her back. But something was wrong and I immediately picked up the phone.  

She and my aunt had exchanged strange text messages. She was very worried and didn't know what to do. My aunt wanted to be left alone, but the family was worried and requested for someone to go check on her. Was it the right thing to do? It was the only thing to do. You don't want a loved one to do something drastic, and if they did and you didn't call for help, how do you live with that guilt? I assured her she did the right thing. For the next few minutes that seem to feel so slow and agonizing, we exchanged phone calls.  Then social media came into play. My cousin learned via Facebook that something was going on in my aunt's neighborhood and police were there. I just froze.

I grabbed my phone to go online and see what they saw. I had my friend on instant messaging trying to help me. Man Friend was at work listening to a scanner trying to follow it all to help me out as well. I couldn't sit still. I kept getting up asking two co-workers their opinions on what was going on.... just hoping someone could assure me that what I read online wasn't MY aunt. One co-worker used to be a sheriff deputy. I quizzed her on all the possible reasons that people could be responding, searching for a positive outcome in my head although I knew there wasn't going to be one. There was talk of guns being drawn and a single shot heard in the home. How could anything good come of that?

Typical Nancy! 
I don't even know how long this went on. It felt so long but I know it wasn't. At one point I called up to my mom to see if she was in her meeting, which she was. I hoped the meeting would be short and just said to the girl on the phone that I'd call back if I needed to. Work didn't happen. I was just staring and trying to decide if I should call the police department to find out who the person in this news story was. But I didn't want to hear the answer.

Then the phone rang the last time.  I still hear her voice and tone perfectly. After a still silence she said to me, "She's gone." I just froze. No tears came out. My first worry was my cousin. How was he? And then suddenly I had to hang up. "Okay, I have to go tell my mom. Bye." I couldn't breathe. I was gasping for breath but nothing would come. My face, I imagine, had to be completely red. I was instantly covered in tears. I ran up the flight of stairs faster than I thought humanly possible. I opened the door and the poor girl on the other side must have been completely stunned. I had her interrupt the meeting to get my mom. With the meeting door still wide open, I saw my mom and lost it even more. I couldn't even speak. I pulled her into a side office and tried to figure out - how do you tell someone their sister just killed herself?? And apparently I didn't.  I tried to tell the story but couldn't breathe or speak, so I just cut to the chase, "Nancy... She's dead."  

Still in hysterics I ran downstairs, while Mom told our coworkers we had to go home. My poor mom at this time thought it must have been a heart attack. Some how I managed to turn my computer off and grab my things as we hustled out the door, people stopping to hug me on the way out. The whole way home I couldn't stop crying. I barely spoke. "How are we supposed to tell Grandpa?" That's the only sentence I can remember saying. I think I said how mad I was at her. How could she do this to us? How could she do this to Grandpa? Dammit, I'm still mad at her for it!!

At Grandpa's house he was confused to see us so early. It wasn't lunch time. And then he saw me crying and was worried. Mom calmly took him into the living room, sat him down and told him she passed away. It still remains the single worst moment of my entire life. I know I ended up sitting on his lap with my arms around him, crying. Poor Grandpa - I'm not the tiny girl I used to be! Soon the Police Chief arrived and told us what happened, although I already knew and just sort of forgot to relay that message.

The rest of the afternoon our collection of people at the house grew. We all sat in silence a lot. We talked a lot, too. I stared at the carpet most of the time, texting a few close people so they could hear it from the family instead of through social media. My mom and uncle left to go check on my cousin at his home. It was then that my dog got out of the house. So now I have no aunt and my dog that wanders is gone. I ran through my whole neighborhood yelling her name and crying. It all became too much for me to handle. I ran back to Grandpa's to get my phone to call my mom to see if she took Lady with her - and who did I find? Lady. She was just sitting in the living room smiling and getting pet by someone. Ugh, darn stinker!

We had dinner together as a family that night, like the old days when Grandma was still here. But this time it was just quiet. We'd try to share stories to find some laughter or convince ourselves that she is happier now. Mostly I just stared.  

I've mastered the blank stare at nothing over this past year whenever I think of her. A year later and I still cry if I even try to say her name in a situation that isn't a funny one. I missed her funeral. I left for Florida less than 48 hours after this happened to go run a race. Jessica and Abby took care of me at Epcot on funeral day - with me popping in and out of World Showcase bathrooms to go cry alone in stalls. It's a year later and I'm still not over it. She was such a personality. Nearly all of my childhood memories have her right there in them with my mom and I. Dance recitals, birthday parties, Christmas, swimming lessons, at the family drug store trying to teach me about periods and maxi pads! It felt like we all grew up together and I was just about to join adult world by getting married and starting a family, and now she's gone from it all too soon. We never got to see Cher together like we planned. We never got to do a lot - but trust me, we did A LOT! The stories are endless! For example - did you know she was there when I was born and at first sight of me she ran to go throw up?!? True story!

Anyway, that was my day. It was the worst day. But at least I can look back at my 34 years with her and have the Best memories!


  1. I'm happy that you have so many good memories that help you through. And by the way, I have a picture of me and my twin sister from when I picked out my wedding dress that looks almost exactly like the one you have labeled "my aunt taking over". I was going to say she looked like she was pointing out your boobs-much like my sister was doing to me in our picture. I'm sorry that she's gone and it's still so hard, but I'm glad you and your family are able to remember the happy times!!!!

  2. that's a horrible story. I'm sorry that happened to you, all of you... I have no more cogent comments. sad now! :(

  3. Sad stories. Keep cherishing those memories!! XOXOXO


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