September was quite an emotional month with the death of my very special tante ( aunt) Alie. Now I realise that death is the only guarantee we have in life and it comes to us all. It isn't new to me, losing someone very near and dear. Yet the ache, the 'missing you' and the unfathomable sadness that comes with the letting go is something I struggle with each re-occurring time.
While I was in New Zealand on holiday visiting my children I was kept updated on my tante's failing health situation by my cousin, tante's youngest daughter. For some reason she and I are close and enjoy a special friendship. We have had regular contact over the years and a special bond has developed. My tante had a stroke. Her left side was mostly effected. She lost the ability to be independent. It crushed her. She felt so useless and devoid of any form of quality of life that it made her extremely sad. Yet her character wouldn't allow her to give up. She fought the illness with determination and dignity. The desired improvements however, just didn't materialise. Her dependency only increased. Tante Alie and the family held many a conference with the medical team around her. Strong willed as she was, tante's energy was zapped, her level of care was high, her improvements minimalistic.
After my return home I made my way to visit her in the hospital. How sad to see her so changed. So feeble and listless. Prior to my trip I visited my tante and oom ( uncle). She made me my coffee and brought the cake to the table. Although she needed her walker for outside the apartment- inside she managed well just with going from furniture to door etc. She coped well. To see this change in her was hard to take. I wished I had a magic wand to make her well again.
The decision to halt all treatment came from her. It took so much out of her that it didn't weigh up against the improvements. My tante was transfereed to the 'in care' ward of the care centre where she and oom lived in an apartment. My oom was capable of still living independently. With tante under the same roof- they were able to spend time together during the day. When I spent time with them one Saturday, first Mass in the chapel then coffee in the communal lounge, I could see that tante Alie's health had taken so many beatings, she barely had the energy to cope with each new day.
Two weeks after my last visit, tante Alie found her final rest. In the presence of her husband to whom she had been married for 63 and1/2 years, her two daughters and their spouses, tante Alie breathed her last. Peacefully and thankfully.
Her passing hit me hard. We had such a close and loving relationship. She knew all my secrets, my hurts and dreams. Tante was a matter of fact person. She listened. Never once did she say " do this or you must do that". She listened- said what she thought was helpful to me and didn't force her own opinion ever.
At the farewell I was privileged to share some words- also bringing into the 'space' we were in, those relations ( including her brother) who live Down Under. They too were hurting. Loss at such a distance without being able to physically say goodbye, is extremely painful. I know this from personal experience.
My memories are stored, and I reach out to them regularly and cherish them. Her name will be on my lips, and her love and care for me are my precious legacies, worth their presence in gold.
Rest peacefully dearest tante Alie, rest peacefully.