Death breaks more than the body.
This morning, I came home to an email – because that’s how we’re doing it now – to say that my Auntie Joyce had died.
It was not unexpected, and in many ways I do not think she will have been sorry. I will miss her, and I’m so glad to have seen her and hugged her last time I was in England. I called my father back, and persuaded him to tell me a story of when he was a child, and she was a teenager dating his brother. She covered for him when he smuggled home a fish in his pocket after his brother had vetoed the idea at the end of a day’s fishing trip. We laughed, then he choked up a bit.
I asked him to email my cousins’ addresses, so that I can write to them. There’s no question of my flying over for the funeral; quite apart from all of the other logistical problems, my recent change of citizenship has left me, for the first time since the age of nineteen, temporarily without a passport valid for international travel.
I think of the last time I saw my cousins. It was at their aunt’s – my mother’s – funeral. The elder told me, as I drove her back to the railway station, that she was sorry never to have got to know me, really. The younger, my age, who came by train to my eighteenth birthday party, who moved home from Singapore month after I moved out there, and made sure I knew my way around before she left, said how sorry she was that we only saw each other at funerals these days. We planned to keep in better touch, but that was six years ago, and we haven’t.
I know that my failure to attend this time will breathe that seam open just a little further open. Auntie Joyce’s absence will leave a silence larger than her own.
May she find peace. May light perpetual shine upon her. May her daughters be comforted by those who are close to them. Love to them all x
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A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing, by Rosalind C Hughes, is available from Upper Room Books.https://bookstore.upperroom.org/Products/1921/a-family-like-mine.aspx