When my phone rang a little after six on Thursday morning, I knew it was bad. When I saw my mom’s phone number on the screen, I silently prayed it was just a pocket dial or something. Crazy thinking because my mom still has a flip phone, and therefore never pocket dials anyone. But when your phone rings that early (or really late), you know it’s never good news.
She told me that my Aunt Connie–her little sister–had died in a motorcycle accident overnight. Over the weekend Naoto and I went down to Central Illinois for her memorial service. It was a heavy, heartbreaking weekend.
Maybe it was because she lived (what could be considered by most) a difficult life, but Aunt Connie squeezed every bit of love and enjoyment out of her sixty-one years. She was widowed very young–with a toddler daughter and a son on the way–when her husband was killed in a car accident. And ten years ago this month, her son passed away.
Somehow, she was strong, enthusiastic and had a wonderful sense of humor. She loved her daughter and grandchildren mightily, she loved her husband Stan fiercely and she took advantage of every opportunity to have an adventure, to make someone smile or just to enjoy being together. She always greeted us with a huge smile and a punch on the arm. (Sometimes she left a bruise…it was her enthusiasm-for-life mark.) She was loud and had the heartiest laugh. (I’m loud, too, so I totally appreciated this about her.) And she was that person at a family gathering that you wanted to be sitting next to because you were guaranteed a snarky comment and a good belly laugh.
Her spirit was truly one of the best parts of our family. I can only hope that we all can live life the way Aunt Connie did–fearlessly, joyfully and with a big punch on the arm.
The picture above is from my wedding, Aunt Connie dancing with my niece Kaitlyn.