I don’t want to spoil the ending, but…my Auntie Bea was one of the greatest of all time.
To understand this reference, is to understand the essence of Bea. She had one of the most vivacious, sassy, and wonderful senses of humor that I have ever known, could dish it and take it better than anyone, and knew how to throw a punch line (even if she didn’t realize her proclivity for it). In this case, she said that first line just before going ahead and spoiling the whole reason for the story, but that just made it all the better.
In life, we are lucky to get time to spend with any grandparent, but I’ve had the fortune of three remarkable women who I consider to be my grandmothers. But for now, I want to focus on the person who was not just my aunt, but one of my very best friends.
Auntie Bea, or BB for short, was the person who picked me up from school when I didn’t want to walk; blew straw wrappers at my brother in the fanciest restaurants; scooped up the smallest bite of ice cream and swept it to the side as she devoured the bigger bowl in front of her; stayed on log flume rides longer than necessary because her friend was stuck on it (the same friend, my Nana, who I suspect was waiting for her with a drink in hand); ordered aforementioned drink with ice on the side so as to get her money’s worth; took me to the movies every day before Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember; attended every long and tedious cheerleading competition I’ve ever been in; dropped a suitcase full of Barbie shoes and laughed about it after; sassed kids at the beach who mocked her name; acted out the name of the categories instead of the word during charades; got banned from the library for wanting to use the internet during children’s story time; fought over who grabbed the last dolphin with her sister over an epic game of Splash; kicked our butts in mini golf and checkers and card games; asked me if I was wearing white stockings and grimaced when I said it was my bare legs; never missed a story, piece of gossip, chance for a drink, or a good party; sang loudly and terribly over the phone on every birthday; visited me in the hospital when I had surgery; was the first and last at everything we’ve ever needed her for; helped shape me into the person I am today; loved me for my strengths and called me out on my flaws; and was- is- one of the most important people in my life.
There are so many more memories that will come to me in the strangest of moments, but those are just a few of them. There are also many facets of Bea that make up who she was, daughter, sister, wife, mother, nurse, friend, but for selfish and selfless reasons, I am focusing on what I know her to be.
That she is gone now, in the early hours of Monday morning, is something I have yet to comprehend. There is a ball of grief burrowed in my chest, waiting, as I’ve made it through these past few days on autopilot. Right now, it’s as hard to think back as it is to move forward because to think there is a life to be lived without her is not something I want. That there will be people, important, life-changing people, who will enter my life and not know her, doesn’t feel right. Because she is one of the most impactful important, life-changing people for me. I have to believe in something like an afterlife with the sole purpose of needing to see her, and other much loved ones, again, because if not, I could not take my next breath.
This grief, and I’ve still yet to be hit with the sheer magnitude of it, makes me believe that just as the heart beats, the lungs breathe, and the mind thinks, the soul exudes; emotions- love, grief, joy, and anger- sit heavy within and around.
Words will never adequately express the sense of loss I feel at her passing, or the love I have for her, but I needed to try, to share, because to know, even on a surface level, my relationship with my Auntie Bea, is to understand me on a better level.
I am not okay, nor will I ever truly be the same now that she is gone, but I am the lucky one for having her for as long as I did, for the memories I’ve saved, and the attributes I’ve inherited. There is peace in knowing that she is not suffering and that she is watching over me, but the pain of not having her here will endure all the same.
For BB, one of the greats, this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever written, but thanks for making these stories so damn wonderful to share.