This week I buried my Aunty

In the days inhabited before wires brought us the Internet and connected our devices in our homes, our hands and our pockets, people used to write their personal experiences, musings and feelings in a diary. Private. Some even with a lock and key. Now we live in a world of over-sharing; our blogs become our diaries, our facebook pages our vehicle for personal expression, our foursquare check-ins tracking our physical passage through our lives and our pinterest pages our likes and shopping intentions.

We share these thoughts with all, our friends and acquaintances, and total strangers, all in the search for a social hit. Jacking up on virtual social acceptance, likes and shares.

To some part we play roles, cultivating the person that we want to be seen by the world, curating the best parts of our lives, and displaying them in a glossy magazine version of ourselves. Many wish they could be more like the person they present via digital media. For the most part we don’t post pictures of ourselves crying, grumpy or sad. In fact people tend to shy away when we present a less than rosy picture of our lives.

I used to take the British approach of a stiff upper lip, dealing with the stuff that wipes the smile off your face behind closed doors, or even worse shoving all the bad stuff in a cupboard, locking the door and losing the key. After several years of practicing yoga, awareness and presence, and thanks to a couple of years of digging deeper into the human psyche with therapy, I try instead to honour the truth of the matter, that rawness & thus richness of the human experience.

Going through a particularly difficult time, broken open and beaten up a bit by life, my obvious pain, instead of making my students question what kind of a Yoga Teacher I was to be so obviously messed up, humanised me and we connected in a deeper, more meaningful way. Every blog post I write where I rip my insides out and string them up for you, as if you were to read them like tea leaves, gets way more hits than even my best recipes.

We’re human beings. In addition to all the wondrous shades of joy, Human beings get hurt, they feel pain, loss and sadness. We’d be living in Stepford if we put a brave face on everything. Too many things are buried deep inside of us, turning into expressions of anxiety and stress; tumours, ulcers, cancers. “better out than in”, don’t let it stay in! So here we are. Openness, over sharing and ugly stuff.

Losing my Aunty was hard. When I think back on my childhood, she is indelibly etched into it. My brother and I are around the same age as my cousin, my mum and aunty were very close, and so we spent a lot of time with them growing up. As much as I see her in my past, I HEAR her in my past. She was always laughing. Some people complain about the smallest most insignificant things, my Aunty had a lot to complain about and she never did. She took it in her stride and flourished when others would have been diminished, making the most of the wonderful life and family she’d been blessed with. She laughed and she shared.

She was amazing, so vivacious. She seemed so glamorous to me. So many different hairdos, nice clothes (80’s power suits included!), red nails and red lippy. She was my cool Aunty and she always knew how to weedle stuff out of us.

Time ticks on, our lives get fuller with jobs, friends, responsibilities and those precious family moments of our childhood get pushed out, they change and evolve as we do. We build our own families and get drawn into our own lives more fully. Live overseas and suddenly you’re losing chunks of time. I missed a lot.

Despite her complicated medical history, I never imagined she would be gone so soon and wouldn’t be in my now or my future. It still doesn’t seem real. She was too young. I’m too young. How can I be losing an Aunty?! Grandparents yes. Very hard to lose, but a generational tier removed. Aunties? Sh#t just got real.

My Auntie’s gone. I didn’t get to take her for afternoon tea and I never did get to give her that massage L

We can’t live with regrets, it like putting the pain in a box and burying it in your chest to go off like a bomb later. So I will mourn all those things I wished I’d done and then I will dust myself off again and be grateful . Grateful for her being my Aunty, grateful for those care packages sent to Brazil, for those dinners in Ealing, for her laughing at me. Grateful for all the things I am today because of having her, and Uncle Clive and Michael in so many years of my life.

I have never been so close to death before and it’s made me think about it. As natural as birth is, so is death. It’s inevitable and I accept my own immortality, yet I grieve the absence in my life it creates. It feels like a bad breakup, where that person who so filled your life, literally dies to you. Only less painful because they clearly weren’t meant to be a permanent fixture in your life or they wouldn’t be out of it!

I believe a person who is in a terminal situation, should be able to choose to ‘die with dignity’, I do not want to be assisted were something truly awful to happen to me. I want to be cremated but I do not want my remains to be stored somewhere. I want them to be scattered, in the bluebells, with the roses, in the sea, in the fields. Returned to nature.

I don’t want a funeral, and definitely not in a church, I’m not religious! I want my loved ones to remember me in their own way. If they want to do it in a shared way, then let them play Rudimental’s ‘feel the love’ loud. Because ashes to ashes, dust to dust, Catholic, Christian, Yogi, we return to the earth that bears us. Finally united, we release the fears that block us from feeling the love all around us and we meet true peace.

All beginnings must come to an end, our destiny fills the middle.

I cried a whole river of tears this week, to fill that gap my Aunty Tish left behind in our lives. Whilst that gap will never be filled, I’m so grateful for everything she gave me, the memories she left me & the people she left behind; together we are connected & reconnecting in our loss & our happy, happy memories. Love you Aunty Tish.

om tryambakam yajamahe sugandhim pushtivardhanam urvarukamiva Bandhanan Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat. Be at peace.

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One response to “This week I buried my Aunty

  1. Pingback: Looking back, looking forwards – 2014 ramblings in review | Ramblings of a wild strawberry·

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