I've always assumed the time period where the people I care for start passing away would be in my late thirties... but I was wrong. I feel that in my early twenties, I've lost too many loved ones already.
My aunt, Mary, suffered a cardiac arrest this morning, completely out of the blue. She wasn't sick, she wasn't having any troubles with her heart, and she was perfectly healthy when I saw her a month ago.
I am having a difficult time picturing the rest of my life without her in it.
Mary was an inspiration to me, for so many reasons.
She taught me that it is possible to overcome challenges.
Mary was paralyzed in a sledding accident when I was very little, which means I don't have any memories of her not being in a wheelchair. Even though she couldn't control her body anymore, she still found the strength to adjust to her new life, and find the positives in it. She moved into a home with an elevator, and started her own home health agency. She continued to be an involved mother, and often hosted family parties at her home. There were very few things she couldn't do.
She taught me that there is joy in the journey.
I never once heard her complain about her situation. I never once saw her mad or upset about her lot in life. I never saw her depressed or moping. In fact, I only remember her small smile and the way her eyes would sparkle when she chuckled. She found activities that she loved, she surrounded herself with people she loved, and she found true happiness in life. She showed me that regardless of my situation, it is possible to continually become happier, even in the face of hardship.
She taught me that it is okay to be yourself.
Mary isn't actually my aunt: she's my aunt's life partner. I still remember the day I figured out that my aunts Deb and Mary were different from other people's aunts. All my life, Deb and Mary had been a packaged deal; I didn't ever question that. It was completely natural for them to be together. It made perfect sense that Deb would feed Mary at meals, and steered her wheelchair so effortlessly. It made sense that they were together. In fact, it's too weird to think of my aunt dating any other women... that's just not how it works.
I believe that Mary and Deb are the biggest reason that I am such an open and nonjudgemental person, which is a unique trait among other LDS members who blatantly oppose homosexuality. Why does my opinion have any sway against two wonderful people sharing their lives together? Why don't they deserve to be civilly married? What does their marriage do to affect me? I'll answer that one... it does nothing. My life is not changed in any way with the marriage of two women, or two men.
So yeah, I'm a Mormon, and I'm a Democrat. My views don't completely align with those of my LDS counterparts, and for that, I am grateful. I believe knowing Mary has helped me shape my personal views, and I am so happy that I was able to know her.
Death weighs heavy on the heart.
This was just so unexpected.
Cherish every single day, my friends.