December 22nd started out like any other day. Our family had exchanged our holiday gifts, and my mom had called to chat. We enjoyed our conversation, and it was good to catch up.
Just a few hours later, my mom called back. I figured she just had forgotten to ask me something (which happens on occasion), but when I answered the phone something was different in her voice. It was quite obvious she was thinking what words to say. The one’s she chose were “Hon, I have some bad news….”
Those are never words that anyone wants to hear. My grandfather is ill, and I thought it was finally “that” call. Jumping the gun, I exclaimed “It’s grandaddy, isn’t it?” Dead silence was on the other end of the line.
That’s when she dropped the bomb. My aunt was missing. Those words weighed like a million pounds of lead on my heart. My mind raced. Missing? What does that mean? Laura was always so close to her family. This doesn’t make sense.
That’s when the dread started hitting the pit of my stomach. My aunt was supposed to meet my grandma at her nursing home, but failed to show up. She wasn’t answering her phone, and no one had seen her. Something in my gut told me that this wasn’t going to end how I had hoped. It wasn’t what I wanted to think. Laura could be really flaky sometimes, so I hoped she had gone an impromptu shopping spree and had forgotten her phone in the car.
The only thing I could think of doing was to go to social media and get the word out. My main mission from 1,5000 miles away was to get something to go viral in hopes the right person might see we were looking for my precious aunt. As I was madly pursuing social media, we would get a little bit more information and a little bit more. Two hours later we got word her car had been found, empty.
All the dread that had been whirling in my head was now at a full point, and I felt as if I was going to explode. What was only 15 minutes seemed like hours if not days. That’s when the phone rang for one last, final time. I picked up the phone to hear “Baby, she’s gone!”
You see in movies someone so overcome with grief that they crumple into a pile and can’t be consoled. It always seemed like overdramatic antics until that day, December 22nd. In those three words, my world crumbled. All I could do was cling on the floor and wail. My aunt, my big sister, one of my best friends was gone. I wanted to escape it all. It had to be a bad dream. This wasn’t real. She was only 50 years old, 14 years my senior. How could it be true?
There aren’t many memories of my childhood that don’t involve Laura. She was so close to my age, she was always more like a big sister that I never had. She never judged me and loved me unconditionally.
She was there when I sliced my knee on the way down to Disney World for the first time. A budding nurse at the time, she was quick to wrap me up and make it all better.
When I would visit Savannah during the summers, she would take me to this great Mexican restaurant. She even coaxed me to try my Spanish out on the waiter. It was her favorite story to tell. When he brought my food, she told me to say “muy bien gracias,” but through my thick Southern accent it turned out more like MOOOOEEEEEE BEEAN GRASSY ASS.
We would head down to River Street and check out all the fancy wears. One time she told me were meeting a friend in the downtown squares, just to surprise me with a horse and buggy ride. She was always so thoughtful and so giving.
As I grew up, she was the one that would sneak me a drink or two at family functions, and would always be sure to join me in doing the electric slide.
When I was pregnant with Keiran, Laura was there right by my side. Two weeks overdue, she headed over to Hinesville to help me push my precious Keiran into the world. Even though she would tell you her precious little niece turned into the “exorcist” she wouldn’t have been anywhere else in the world.
Attending her funeral was probably the second darkest days of my life. It was obvious how many people she had touched because during her two hour viewing she had a line that went out the door of the funeral home, and stayed that way the whole two hours.
If anything has come from this tragedy, I’ve learned that life is too short. My aunt was always so full of life, so compassionate, and so loving. Ultimately, in the end, these might’ve been her shortcomings too. I know Laura didn’t wake up December 22nd, and know it was going to be her last day on Earth. That’s just the point. None of us know. There’s nothing I can do to bring her back, but what I can do is continue her legacy to love a little bit more, care a little bit less, and live my life to the fullest. That’s the only way I can make sure my life honors my Aunt Laura.
Whispers of You
Quietly, silently I hear whispers of you floating through the air
Glimpses of memories flutter through my mind of stories and dreams that you and I shared
I turn quickly: watching and searching for your stare. Impressions of you are always there.
Giving in to the missing of you is a darkness I do not dare.
Please always keep whispering to me through the air.