My memories from when I was a child aren’t as clear as I’d like them to be. I’m from a very big family, so sometimes my memories tend to mush together. I think the one memory that had a very big impact on me as a young child, was when my Aunt Noella died. I think I was four or five at the time, but I remember my thoughts from that day even now.
My aunt was a fun, sweet, and sassy lady. I remember her clipping these big, sparkly earrings on my ears and her speaking with her raspy voice, while she’d talk with me, and making me belly laugh when she’d take out her false teeth. I was too little to notice her getting sick, but on the day she died I remember she was in a bed in the living room. It was one of those portable hospital-type beds that propped up and it was strange to me how it seemed to just appear one day.
My brother had been really close to her and he cried out for the doctor not to shut off the monitor when her machine told us that she had flat-lined (I learned that term much later). I really feel like he thought she might get better if we just kept it going a bit longer. It was the first time I’d seen a grown-up cry. I remember thinking it was nice to know my older brother cried just like me. I never agreed with the whole “boys should be tough and not cry” idea. My little mind thought it was silly. He was really sad, so of course he should cry.
I left him to cry because he seemed like he wanted to be alone, and I went into the kitchen to try and be alone. It was hard seeing evetyone I loved so sad. I found my aunt’s friend in the kitchen with her head down on the table, crying. I asked her if she was very sad and she said yes. I remember comforting her in my own little way and that memory of helping someone feel better has stayed with me all this time. It made me feel so much better to help someone else.
Since that day, almost thirty years ago now, I’ve always wanted to ease others pain when I can. Learning about grief and then compassion at such a young age, has really shaped the person I’ve grown to be. I’ve lost a lot of dear friends and family through the years, but I’ll never forget that first loss of someone I loved, and the peace I found in comforting someone.
Share your memories with us, friends. 🙂