I was in third grade when my favorite aunt passed away.
She was a second mom to me. I always had fun going on wild rides or shopping with her. One day, when I was visiting with my aunt and grandparents, my aunt took me to a Target out of town because she wanted to get this pretty fire pit for her house, and while we were there, she bought me some fun bug catchers and other things for the yard. And on the way home, we sang the song Downtown by Petula Clark at the top of our lungs. I also remember the day when she gave me her fur baby, Daisy, because, unbeknownst to me, she was already very sick and the doctors told her it was best that she does not have a dog in the house. But to me, it meant the world that she was entrusting me with her most prized possession — basically her own child. She was always the life of the party, and it was hard when she was suddenly gone.
I was devastated.
Fast forward to when I was a freshman in high school. I lost my best friend, my grandpa, to cancer.
Again, I felt my world falling apart. My grandpa and I were very close, and he would always call me and we would talk for hours. Every time my report card came out, my grandpa told me that he better find a copy of it in the mail, and he would send me money or a gift for doing so well in school. He told me he would take the copy of my report card to the school where he worked and show the kids that he assisted that his granddaughter got good grades in school so they could, too.
My grandpa would always come and visit me for the summer, and I would always cook him breakfast. Or sometimes we would go to McDonald’s and he would have coffee and a breakfast sandwich but insisted that I get the pancake platter and eat it all up. We would go to the dollar store, which was his most favorite place in the whole world, and he would buy me five hula hoops and other things that I insisted that I didn’t need, but he wanted to buy them for me anyway. He was the best grandpa in the whole world. He always did everything for me and loved me so much. I remember when he got his silver truck but got a pink stripe on it because “that’s what Bubba wants.” I remember the time he took me to the swap meet, and I saw this beautiful toy princess castle; I told him that I liked it, but we kept walking. But on the way back to the car, he stopped at the booth and bought me my princess castle.
My grandpa was my world, and now my world was gone.
I also lost Daisy, the dog that my aunt gave me, during my sophomore year of high school. And during my last year of college, I had to make the difficult decision to say goodbye to the first dog I ever got: my Jack Russell Terrier, Missy.
It has been difficult to lose a lot of those that were dear to me, and it has left a lot of holes in my life.
But through the sorrow of having lost those that I loved with all of my heart, I learned that when I was missing my loved ones that had passed, I only needed to bring them to life. In telling stories about our loved ones — like I the stories I told you about my aunt and grandpa — I am keeping them alive.
Every time I tell someone a story, especially those in the generation after me, that story passes down and their legacy will continue. As long as they are remembered and loved and talked about, they will always be living amongst us.
It was not that long ago when I told a dear friend of mine about this. My friend was missing her grandmother that had passed away and I told her the same thing: if she was missing her grandma, all she had to do was bring her to life. When we become sad, we must talk to about them as though they are there. Share stories and talk about what you liked about your loved one. The more we talk about them, the more they are with us.
So when you are missing your loved one that has passed, just remember to bring them to life. Celebrate their lives, cherish your memories of them, and continue their legacy.