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Two Down, Three to Go

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Denial. Isolation. Anger. Depression. Acceptance. The five stages of grief. As an eighteen year old, I have experienced more deaths, subsequently more grief, than most adults. I have lost my dad, my grandmother, my grandfather, and my aunt, all of whom with I was very close. The five stages of grief to some may seem like a joke, but to me they are all too real. My Aunt Ginger’s death was perhaps my first adult experience with grief and it was the first death to truly shatter my world.

Aunt Gin was hard to describe in words. She was compassionate, loving, and generous, a true giver. Many people said she would give you the clothes off of her back if you needed them. She was one of the rare, truly optimistic people, who could see sunshine even on the darkest days. Even through all of her illness and pain, she always managed a smile when I walked in the door. Aunt Gin was more than my aunt; she was another mother, my confidant, my therapist, and my best friend. But most of all, she was mine.

She was mine with all her faults, though I tended to overlook them. She was morbidly overweight, and due to her weight problem, she had many back and leg problems, so much so that she had to be admitted to the hospital for surgery to correct the problems. My family spent Christmas Eve in the hospital with her, gathered tightly around her hospital bed, opening presents and recalling memories of Christmases’ past. As unconventional as that Christmas was, we didn’t need a Christmas tree or a hearty Christmas feast, because that Christmas, the setting didn’t matter, because at least we were all together—a family. Little did I know that would be the last time we could all gather together before the worst day of my life.

The call came when I was in fifth period. I was so excited to get out of class that I didn’t realize for someone other than my mom to come pick me up meant a dire emergency. My Aunt Sharon wouldn’t tell me much on the ride to the hospital in Thomasville, just that Aunt Gin had gone into cardiac arrest and that we needed to be down at the Hospital. My mom was already at the hospital and I knew what had happened when I saw her face. It felt like a wave of grief had hit me like someone had punched me in the stomach, taking all the air out of my lungs. As I clung to my mom, I couldn’t cry because it just couldn’t be real. Aunt Gin could not be dead. She couldn’t have possibly been taken from me. Not my Aunt. Not MINE. Denial.

I don’t remember much of the funeral just that I couldn’t cry. I know that Kaley and Jen sat beside me, but I didn’t want to be hugged or touched. I wanted to crawl into bed and never come out. For a few months after the funeral, I avoided social interaction by avoiding those who wanted to help me the most. In reality, I laid on the couch and just laid there like I was in a catatonic state instead of my lively normal self. My normal self craved people, but this “new” me felt wrong having fun. I spent many days just going through the movements, not really caring, counting down the moments till I could be by myself. Alone. Isolation.

I soon began not going to church and I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t want to go. I just knew that I no desire to go anymore. A few months ago, I realized that I was angry at that time in my life. I was angry at God for taking Aunt Gin away from me. He took my Aunt when he could’ve taken someone else’s. The anger consumed me and soon it was my excuse for not going to church, though I never told that to anyone. I was so angry at God that I quit praying, quit going to him in times of need, and did things not for Him but for me. Anger.

A few months later, I was listening to my IPOD, and two songs played that truly spoke to my heart. David Phelps’s song “No More Night” played first and it reminded me that Aunt Gin was in heaven, a true paradise. There she has no more pain and suffering and she was so happy, happier that she could ever be without God. As I pondered that song, the next song changed my attitude toward life forever. Casting Crown’s song “Praise You in the Storm,” reached to the very depth of my soul and brought out the guilt and shame I felt for me being mad at God at the time when I needed him most. The chorus “I will praise you in the storm. And I will lift hands. You are who you are, no matter where I am. And every tear I cry you hold in Your hand. You never left my side and though my heart is torn, I will praise you in this storm,” brought me to my knees with heart-wrenching sobs. For the first time since Aunt Gin’s death, I could let the tears flow. For the time I wasn’t just grieving, I was mourning. Depression.

The Fall Concert of my junior year was approximately ten months after Aunt Gin died. The concert was the first she would’ve. As I was on stage, a miraculous thing happened. I can’t explain it, but I felt her presence there in the auditorium watching me sing. I could almost see her in the front row smiling always at me, with the look on her face that told me how proud she was of me. I don’t really remember that concert much, just that for the first time I didn’t have the urge to cry anymore. The anger and depression that had been such a prominent presence in my life faded away. It was like Aunt Gin let me know that everything was going to be okay, and that she wasn’t gone, but instead, watching over me. It was the first time since her death that my heart was calmed. Acceptance.





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bubblylittledancer said...
Apr. 16, 2009 at 7:01 pm
This is a truly amazing piece! I loved it, it pulled at my heart!!! Please write more!
-Elle <3
 
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