Tag Archives: family

Anger after death.

I’m just going to jump right into this one.

I’ve been struggling off and on with quite a few things lately; one of the main ones being that, nearly 2 years after my grandmother passed away, her estate was finally settled in the most drug-out, slap-in-the-face way possible.

Kind of hard to explain, really; a long story full of secrets and betrayal with an extremely sad ending.

For the past 2 months I have had a few boxes of my grandma’s personal belongings sitting in my apartment. With circumstances, and the way things ended, my emotions were too high for me to really care to start going through them.

Around the end of January I finally started to go through them. They’ve been taking up space in my guest bedroom, being the literally huge elephant in the room that I can’t ignore, but kept trying to. As I started going through them, however, there were so many things I discovered even by just going through one full box that I didn’t even know how to comprehend.

I saw a side of my grandma in photos that I didn’t even know existed; a model, a dancer, a party animal; a beautiful yet wounded person. I saw a life full of memories and wonderful experiences – raising a family, vacations, boating, etc. I saw words written to her by friends and family members through the years about the kind of person she was, the character she had, the great relationships she had built.

It made me happy, sad…and angry. I was deeply hurt that I never truly got to know her. It made me mad that I never had a relationship where we shared much. It was more surface-level; she was a relatively stiff woman, yet here I am reading all of these kind and beautiful sentiments written about her by other people close to her.

Not only did I see a side of my grandma that I didn’t know, but my grandfather, too. He passed away when I was very young – my first grandparent to pass away, actually. I didn’t get the opportunity to know him as well as I could’ve, but he lived until I was 11 and was one of my favorite men in the whole world. He considered me to be the “light of his life,” the “prettiest girl in Kansas City,” and other wonderful things. He was so loving and kind, had such a loud boisterous laugh, gave wonderful hugs and kisses. Of course, at age 11, you don’t get to experience a lot of the depth of a human being. It’s as you grow older and mature that you truly get to know a person for who they are.

His relationship with my grandma, his life before me – none of these things are things I got to learn about from him before he died. And, of course, I didn’t ask my grandma about their relationship, or about her life before me, either – it was all kind of a taboo subject. Much of what I learned about them was either after they had passed, or things I learned that I wasn’t really supposed to know or talk about. Kind of hard to get to know people that way, agree?

I could go on and on for quite awhile about the crazy dynamics of that side of my family; basically this entry is to share my experience. Dealing with death is hard enough; learning things about people after the fact makes you feel like you truly never knew them at all, and makes you wish that you could talk to them to get the story from their perspective. It’s pretty hard to move on when you know you can’t get the full version from the horses’ mouths.

I’m hoping this entry helps me to vent out some of my anger, sadness and frustrations – but I know that this is definitely a life-long process.

In all reality, at least the knowledge that they both loved me in their own ways, and gave me some positive memories to look back on and cherish, is enough for me. But, I will still always wonder…until we meet again.

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The adopted aunt.

Last blog was 11 days ago, hey! I’m getting better at this thing!

I won’t get too far ahead of myself. I’ve done this before..

Anyway.

Today is Veterans Day, and though I am super appreciative of everything that they have done for myself and this country, that is not what I am focusing today’s blog on. Maybe an idea on a future blog, however..

Today one of my friends gave birth to her baby girl!! I find myself super excited, as this is the fourth time I have become an “aunt,” and I can’t wait to meet her!

Why are you putting “aunt” in quotations, you may ask?

Well.

Because I am an only child, I will never be an aunt (by blood, at least).

Now, there are MANY things that separate life experiences of those with siblings from those who are only children. Honestly, that is a blog post I’ve been working in my head for quite some time – delving into why being an only child is both a blessing and a curse, the different nuances of personal qualities and attributes I can blame/thank for being an only child…hell, I’ve probably already written about it and forgotten. Regardless, be prepared – an entry will be coming soon.

Before I ramble too much…as I was saying, there are many things that differentiate a person with a larger family/siblings from someone like me, who is an only child and has a small family. The fact that I will never be an aunt by blood is something that I somewhat struggle with. If I don’t have any children of my own, I will never have the joy of sharing any DNA with any child, ever, actually; and because I do not have any desire to be a mother, well, basically, I have zero DNA connection to the future. I will not share a special bond with a child, one of those bonds only family can have. Quite frankly, that hurts me.

I have always, throughout my childhood, called people my sisters, brothers, cousins, relatives…that are of distant association. I have claimed people as my family by choice. Just because there is no bloodline shared, does not mean that a family by choice is any less meaningful.

It does, however, raise some questions.

I’ve been asked on multiple occasions why I call my friends my sisters, or why I call my friends’ children my nieces and nephews. I know that not everyone can understand why I am quick to call myself Aunt Calli, or why I am not more of a home body and yearn to spend time with those I am close with. It is simple – I want a family.

Before we all jump to the conclusion that my ovaries are on overdrive, that is not what I mean. As I have stated before, I honestly do not feel that I am going to be a mother. Again, this subject could be its own blog post – about how people shame women who don’t want to be mothers, for feeling as if something is wrong with people who don’t choose to have children, etc. I will be writing on this at a later date as well. No, I do not have a maternal instinct, a desire to raise a child of my own. But I do have a desire to be an aunt and still play a role in children’s lives, especially to those children that are being raised by my friends.

I have a huge heart. I place my family, boyfriend and friends in the utmost regard. Though I am human and sometimes make mistakes, my friends should always know that I love them – if not, well, now you do.

And I love your children. I will always vow to be the “cool aunt,” the one that takes them for a weekend and spoils them rotten, the one that remembers them on their birthdays and wants them to join us when we spend time together (though forgive me if in the future I also want us to spend time without kids 😉 ). Just because I am not choosing to be a mother myself does not mean that I dislike children. That is absolutely not true, and will never be true. Period.

I see my relationships as a privilege, and will always take my title as Aunt Calli, the adopted aunt, seriously.

So. In conclusion, should you feel that your child needs an auntie, by all means – I will be more than willing to adopt them into my tribe of nieces and nephews, and I will love them dearly! But for now, I have two lovely nieces (both named Aurora, ironically!) and two lovely nephews – (you guys know who you are) – and though I don’t get to see them/their mommies nearly as much as I would like, I am so happy to be a part of their lives. Thank you for understanding, and welcoming me into your family 🙂

Love,

Aunt Calli, the adopted aunt

One year.

It’s pretty incredible how much can change, yet simultaneously remain the same, in the span of one year.

It’s been one year, as of yesterday, that my grandmother passed away, and one year today that I learned the news. It seems like it’s been longer in some aspects, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

I had the “good fortune” (doesn’t seem like a fitting description, but words are failing me) to be there with her for her last day here on Earth. Our last words exchanged were that we loved one another, leaving not much room for regrets or anything left unsaid.

Regardless of the situation, it’s never easy to lose a loved one. However, in reflection, I am thankful that I was able to have that closure. She is the second grandparent I have lost, and so far I have been lucky in that, with both losses, I have had closure. Not everyone is able to have that when family members pass on.

I suppose this post is not just to commemorate the loss of my grandmother, but to recognize the role that losing a family member/loved one plays in life. It is a necessary evil that we all as humans have to face at some point. When it is a family member who you’re very close to, it can be even harder to process; but even if it’s not the closest relationship, letting go is never easy.

Unfortunately, at 25, I am now at an age where I don’t have much longer to enjoy the company of the grandparents I have left. My paternal grandfather died 14 years ago (as of January of this year), and my paternal grandmother one year ago. I am so thankful that I have both maternal grandparents, as well as two step-grandparents, that I can still spend time with; all are suffering health-wise, however, and I am coming to terms with the fact that they will not be around in my life much longer.

Though they may not physically be present, the lasting memories we have created and the lessons learned from them will stay with me forever. I am a firm believer that “the ones that love us never really leave us,” to quote one of my favorite films (Harry Potter). I know that even though I can no longer see or hear them, I carry them with me in spirit. Even through the times where I fight with accepting their physical absence, that thought can offer some solace.

With death and grief comes lessons; I have learned that I am strong enough to survive losing a loved one, even though the pain can be devastating. I have learned that I need to hold on to the loved ones I have left and cherish the time I have with them every day, whether it’s with a phone call, a visit, or just a kind thought. I have learned that it’s an ongoing process and it ebbs and flows; sometimes grief rears its ugly head when you least expect it, and sometimes you go days without feeling it. But most importantly, I’ve learned that it is manageable. I have been able to connect with others through learning of their own losses, and through discussing my own losses open and honestly. Human connection is one of the most important things, and being able to help others through their own grief is something that can even help to ease your own.

Sorry if this was a somewhat scatterbrained and therapist-like post; but it has helped me to write it. This is my personal blog, after all 😉

The right to grieve.

I’ve been on an unintentional blog hiatus. My deepest apologies; I haven’t had too much to write about until recently, but due to being overloaded with work and emotional obligations I’ve been too busy to post.

The past week and a half I have been forced to realize just how short life is because of the untimely passing of someone who was too young. You constantly hear that children are “supposed to” bury their parents, that it’s the “natural order” of things. It’s not something you think you’ll be doing at the ripe age of 23, however.

One of my best friends had to say goodbye to her mother less than two weeks ago, something that shocked all of us closest to her. Your parents are people that are supposed to be around forever, people that will always be there to answer your questions when you need them or to help you out when you need it. Losing one is something that shouldn’t happen until you’re older and have had years to appreciate them and all that they have done for you.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. I can’t even imagine what my friend and her family are going through right now, which is why I have been challenged, emotionally-speaking, the last week and a half. I have been grieving in my own way, feeling a little out-of-balance and upset. At first I was really conflicted. I didn’t believe I had the right to grieve. She wasn’t a family member of mine, she wasn’t close to me; sure I had met her several times, and I have several fond memories of her, but she wasn’t mine to grieve.

I expressed these feelings to one of my friends, to which she replied: “Sometimes I think we feel guilty for grieving, but everyone has the right to grieve.”

That made me think a bit.

Not only was I grieving for my friend and her family, I was grieving for myself. And I had/have the right to. Sure, she wasn’t my family; but she’s someone that had been a part of my life, even if for a brief time. It’s never easy losing anyone, no matter how big or small a role they played in your life. The right to grieve for the loss of a person is something everyone has, and something that no one should ever feel guilty about.

My grandmother has always been an advocate of taking responsibility for and power over your own emotions, and not allowing anyone else to tell you otherwise. I guess this is an area in which her advice really applies, and I should’ve listened to her sooner.

So, as a conclusion; I will allow myself to feel these emotions without feeling guilty about it. After all, feelings and emotions are part of what make us human, right? So, as a basic human right, it is something I will take responsibility for and power over, and I will not feel guilty for doing so. Everyone handles things differently in life; it’s up to you to decide how you want to think about, feel about or react to those circumstances.