Remembering Annie

March 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

I was named for a very special woman, someone who my family buried today. I admired her greatly, but I wasn’t able to be at her funeral. I had to work today and turn in a paper. It seems so silly when I write it down. I should have been there.

My great aunt was raised on a farm outside of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. She could have never left, like the rest of her family did, but she chose to travel the world, to read everything she could get her hands on, to be passionate about politics. She had a thirst for knowledge that rarely was quenched. When I was younger she would write to me every time she traveled, sharing with me what she saw. She’d send me trinkets from around the globe. I think I have jewelry from every major European city. She went so far as to leave me a rosary in her will – something I’m sure she saw as a last inside joke. She always thought it was hilarious that I wasn’t Catholic.

I have not had a real conversation with my aunt in many years, nor have I seen her. Her Alzheimer’s, aggravated with bi-polar disorder and depression, took her from me long before today. Her husband went as far to ask us not to visit, claiming she wouldn’t want us to visit. He was probably right, but when I got numerous calls and texts from my family asking where I was today, I was filled with shame. She loved me, and I should have been there.

What scares me about what happens when we’re far apart from people is what we forget about them, regardless of how much we love them or they loved us. I know what she looked like, but when I picture her her face is blurry. The exact sound of her voice escapes me. All I can remember is how she made me feel. How much she encouraged me, how beautiful she reminded me I was every time we talked. She always told me to write down everything that happened to me, and told me to read everything I could find. She was magnificent.

What scares me moving forward is all the things that I know now that I forget. Will I remember all the people I grew up with? How much fun we had together? Will I remember the way I felt about someone when I loved them, even if that is gone? Will I remember the way it felt to hug my mom when she’s gone someday?

It’s hard for me to trust new people, but the love I feel for my family is all-encompassing. I hate to be touched by most people, but when my grandfather hugs me it feels like home. When my sister tells me she loves me, I don’t run away in fear.

It is hard for me to be honest about the way that I’m feeling, especially lately, but I am so grateful that Annie showed me to be brave and to pursue new things. No matter how insecure I am about other things in my life, I’m still writing things down. In fact, writing’s become the only way I can be completely honest with myself. Annie, I am so proud to be named after you. Thank you for showing me ways to be brave. I really love you, and I hope you’re at peace, whatever that meant for you.

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