My Aunt Betsy always made me smile. On each of my birthdays she called and sang to me on the phone; birthdays were not complete without her call. She was outgoing and flamboyant in the perfect way, and people loved her because she was always honest, yet never cruel. Aunt Betsy had the most refined style of bright colors, clothes to match every season, funky patterned glasses, and short spunky red hair. Every Christmas she would show up with a string of holiday lights around her neck, little bell earrings that jingled with her every step, and a Santa sweater. As soon as she came through the door she embraced me in her caring arms and said “hello, my beautiful girl.” Due to my Aunts sense of humor and her fun personality, she lightened moods by singing one of her favorite songs, Brick House. She walked into a room moving her arms in a circle and sang that catchy chorus.
Monday, August 18, 2003 started as a fun-loving morning, and ended heart-breaking. When my family arrived home from enjoying a breakfast at Ihop, an unexpected message was on the answering machine. My cousin frantically said that my aunt had passed away of a severe heart attack, while on vacation in Florida. The tremble in his voice made my body, mind and soul get put into shock. Before I could even think my mother was on the phone. She quickly gathered us into the car and we drove to my Nana’s house. The whole ride my mom was not herself, repeating over and over again, “God, do not let this be true.” When we finally arrived at my Nana’s house my Aunt Stacey and Cousin Shawn were sitting outside and my mom parked the car in a rush. She stepped out of the car and knew her sister died, by the expression on their faces. My mom threw her keys to the ground and her legs buckled at her knees. She fell to the black macadam and screamed. I remained in the car for a couple of minutes, as if that was going to shield me from the real world’s harshness. My parents are strong willed, especially my mother, and seeing her vulnerable and completely broke down scared me even more, before I could even realize the serious tragedy that happened.
Days passed without my Aunt and once the shock wore off, I began to comprehend that she was never coming back. I recalled her voice vividly through my mind, and thought of her songs as I pictured her in my memory. Unfortunately she passed at the young age of 49, suddenly and without warning. Many times, people do not know how valuable someone is, until they are gone. I believe everyone should appreciate everything they have in life, everyday. Never take anyone or anything you have for granted. True happiness is when you want and love what you have.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.