Just before my angel went to Heaven, I lost my aunt suddenly. She was in her late fifties, caring for an elderly woman as her full-time job, and had no history of any serious illness other than a gluten sensitivity. When she died, I was terribly sad. It was a huge loss for me, and my mom especially. This was her much younger sister and they had always been close.
I remember thinking, shortly after I heard the news, that she was still ‘with’ me. I couldn’t see or hear her, but I knew she was there. Death, at that point in my life, as my baby fought for his life, redefined itself.
My first real memorable loss was my grandma. She was a young, vibrant and healthy 66 year-old. I was sixteen. Her death leveled me. I still mourn her every day.
But until my aunt, I didn’t truly understand the meaning of death. She showed me, somehow, that it is a loss, but also a rebirth. Our relationship had changed, but we would never truly be separated. There was a link, one that permeated the walls of Heaven and Earth, that could not be severed just because she had left the physical world.
It happened again a few short months later. My cousin, at only 17, chose to send himself to Heaven. That morning, before I had been told of the tragedy, was very unique. The night prior had been dreadful. I was in a puddle of tears for nearly 12 hours. The weight of my grief from losing my baby, I thought, was just at its worse.
The next morning I awakened to a whole new perspective. I felt freer, relieved, almost happy. And then I heard of his passing.
I have no doubt that I felt sweet Jonny’s pain the night he chose to end his life. And I felt his relief when he made his way to Heaven.
I have suffered other losses since then. Some more impacting than others. But when someone close to me makes the transition to Heaven, I know that I feel it.
Today I am struggling. A good friend, whose family I have known since age ten, lost his dad this week. And I am heavy. My heart is heavy. I feel this loss with a physical pain.
It may sound crazy, but when you’re a mother grieving a child, you get a free pass to be crazy. I can feel death. It may be grief. It may be a connection to Heaven, or the other side, or a distant realm.
But there is no denying that I absorb the pain of others. I only hope that they can absorb my healing.