The phone call I’ve been waiting for this week arrived yesterday afternoon when my dad told me my aunt Marie had passed away. Like many other people in the world, I had a favourite aunt and she was it. My sister and I spent many of our childhood summer vacations at her and my uncle’s house in upstate New York. Much to our delight, Captain Crunch would be consumed at every breakfast (a cereal that was not allowed in our house) followed by further treats throughout the day. My aunt and uncle owned a corner store for a number of years, and it was tradition that before we packed up the car and headed home, aunt Marie would pull out a brown paper bag for both my sister and I bursting to the brim with chocolate bars and candy. To a young girl with a weakness for chocolate, it was pure magic!

Aside from spoiling us with sweets, my aunt was also an open ear to our troubles. She married at 17 years of age and she learned and experienced a lot of her own emotional obstacles during her lifetime which I believe allowed her to hear and give us advice without fear or judgment.

In her home you were sure to be surrounded by family and friends at any given point in the day. On a recent visit my sister and I made to see her we found we were lucky if we got a 1/2 hour alone with her as throngs of friends made their way through her rotating front door to see her, bringing her food and gifts.

It’s easy to understand why she had so many friends as she had an enormous ability to make you feel special and loved. Even for those who weren’t related by blood, she made you feel that you were a part of her family and especially her heart. She had been living with cancer for the past two years and recently we could all feel her time with us was growing shorter. Knowing this I thought I was prepared to hear the news yesterday, but in fact I wasn’t. I’m shocked and saddened that this woman who was always full of life and joy is no longer here to share it with the rest of us. She is the first in this generation of my family to pass on and it feels entirely unfair that she be the first to go. Unfair that someone with a large and generous spirit wasn’t given more time to shine.

And as sorry as I am for her that she left too soon, I am saddened for all of us who loved her and feel this great loss. I’ve spent the past day and a half hearing her voice and common expressions of love in my head as I go about my day, and so it seems appropriate to send this message out to my dear aunt Marie as she did hundreds of times to me,

“I love you lady!”