We made it to St. Louis. It was a long day and my kids tried my patience but we got here and that is good.
I have visited St. Louis every summer for the entirety of my life. When we lived in Hong Kong we’d spend over a month here each summer, so in many ways it feels like a second home. We have always stayed with my grandmother when we are in town and her house is absolutely a home away from home. Everything about it is familiar.
But it’s a small house and my grandmother is 91. It’s a lot for my family to stay there with my parents. My kids are getting bigger and they want to run around and play. There isn’t really adequate space at my grandmother’s house. So this year I am staying with my kids at my uncle’s house, in the house where my aunt died last year.
It’s sad to be here with her gone. Her face smiles back at my from a hundred pictures but she is absent from this place. I miss her.
I will admit I don’t think about my aunt being gone often. We didn’t keep in touch much when I wasn’t in town; it’s not like I mourn her passing every day. But when it’s the time of year when I would have seen her, I find myself crying all the time. It’s surprising how much it hurts.
Being in my aunt’s house, with my uncle who is still learning to cope with his grief, is hard. It know it is what’s best for my family, as here we have more space and are closer to my cousin and her kids. But it’s a constant reminder that my aunt is gone, and also a preview of what is to come, when my grandmother, and her house, are no longer there for us to visit.
My uncle and my mother and my mother’s sisters are driving to Birmingham tomorrow to say goodbye to their brother’s wife, who is dying of cancer. She has two daughters in high school. Another aunt gone too soon.
Thinking a lot tonight about death and dying, about the cycle of life, from beginning to end. It’s a lot to process.