When I was young, I saw my parents and my aunts and uncles as these powerful protectors. Strong. As if nothing will break them.
Even when I went off to college, and later on found work, I still saw them that way. Maybe with a few battle scars, worn from toiling, a bit older with a few medical conditions. But still there. Still standing.
Immortal, if you will.
I know, I know. Not one human is immortal.
But that’s how I saw the people who raised me.
Fast forward to May 2017. The 4th of 12 siblings in my father’s family, Auntie Murr, suddenly passed away after a massive heart attack. Less than two months later, the oldest and the matriarch of the family, Auntie Elsa, passed away after battling cancer. Eight months later, on February 9th, the 3rd of the 12, Auntie Aida, passed away in the hospital, after more than a year or two of various medical complications.
These were women who helped raise our families. Along with another aunt, Auntie Baby, they stopped going to school and worked, instead, to send their other siblings to school. They put up a business, which did well in the 80s to early 2000, and sent nieces and nephews to prestigious schools, me and my two siblings, included. Auntie Elsa, Auntie Aida, and Auntie Murr were three of the four pillars of our family. I never considered their mortality because of the strength and fortitude they showed no matter what hardship they faced.
And now I have to realize and accept that the men and women who raised me are human, bound to the reality of humanity – death. My father and mother will pass on. I can’t begin imagining how I would feel when that day comes.
Today, our family mourns another loss. We were expecting she’d go any day, given the many medical complications Auntie Aida had for the last few years, but it’s still heartbreaking nonetheless. I wish I could be with our family back home to mourn. For now, I offer my prayers and a special Mass intention for my Aunt.
You are now at peace, Auntie Aida. Until we meet again.