Recently I was back in Dublin for a friend's wedding. I had been hoping to see a particular aunt (on my Mum's side) again and my Dad had been messaging her to try to arrange something. This particular aunt had been battling breast cancer the past few years. The last time I had met her was during the Christmas holidays when I was back in Dublin. My brother was over from Australia at the time and saw her too and I'm so glad we all managed to spend time with her then. She has always been a very independent person (she was unmarried with no kids) and she was also quite private about her illness. Not just with us but also with other family members. I remember at Christmas she hinted that things had been hard for her lately but her attitude was that there are people going through worse things and she didn't want to be thinking "poor me". She was incredibly brave. She was really excited to see my brother and his fiance at the time and looking forward to their Irish wedding celebration this Summer.
During my recent trip home my Dad invited her over for dinner on the Friday to see my sister and I. My aunt said she didn't want to commit to it as she wasn't sure how she would feel. We said we would keep it free for her. She then told us that she was actually in hospital but hoping to be released soon. We offered to visit but she said she was feeling too tired. I remember wondering whether we should insist and just show up but we decided that if she said she wasn't up for visitors we should respect that. I was busy Saturday with my friend's wedding so we left it that we would try to meet for lunch on Sunday before I'd travel to the airport. That never happened. We got a call from the hospital Sunday morning to go in as soon as possible. I remember thinking in my head about all the things I wanted to say to her and praying for strength to be able to say them without crying too much!
However once we got into the hospital we found out it was already too late. The nurse told us she had passed an hour earlier. She had taken a bad turn during the night. We were all in shock! Like I mentioned earlier, we had no idea how bad her illness had gotten. We were also really sad that she hadn't let us in as we would have loved to have supported her more through it. It's always the way that after someone is gone, you have regrets about things you wish you had said said and done. I wish I had stayed in touch with her more. It's so easy to get caught up in your own life. It's been hard recently as you can imagine. It has also brought back a lot of sad memories of my own Mum's death. Both her and my aunt had been fighting the cancer for as long as they could.
Living away from home is also more difficult when things like this are going on.
I'm glad I was there to pay my respects. We said some prayers with the hospital priest. However I wish I'd gotten to see her alive one more time. And then Mother's day was this month and I remember feeling really sad that there is no such thing as 'aunt's day'. There are so many people who mean a lot and I'm sorry they don't get more recognition. I came across this post recently on the importance of childfree people in children's lives and it mentions aunts in particular. It really does take a village.
On my wedding day I remember how happy and supportive my aunt was for us. She didn't go into the church but wanted to wait to see me arrive in the car! And then she even photobombed some of our wedding photos as she was there beside me fixing my veil. So sweet.
During our first dance there are pictures of her watching us and looking so happy. I hadn't spoken to her directly about our struggles to have a family but my sister had and so I knew she was aware and hopeful for us. It still hasn't really sunk in that she's gone. She won't get to be there for my brother's Irish wedding this Summer.
F*ck cancer for taking so many great people away from us too soon.