Wow, it's been a while since I've written a blog post. I've got my reasons though.
Some of you who may know me or my family personally may know that our Aunt Bette just passed away.
Aunt Bette was my only biological aunt. My mom only has brothers and my dad had one brother and one sister (Bette). She lived probably less than 2 miles from our house, and was essentially a member of my immediate family. Every Christmas, Easter, birthday celebrations, trips up to the cabin she was there.
Aunt Bette was not without health issues, especially towards the end of her life. She had cancer, heart issues, persistent back pain and a host of other ailments that made things very difficult for her and difficult for those who cared about her to witness. It helps me to think that she no longer is in any pain and can take a deep breath of relief. Relief that she is no longer in pain, but also that her family is continuing to pass on her stories, teachings, philosophies and knowledge. We had such a time reminiscing over Thanksgiving with all of my cousins. We laughed, we cried (ok, sobbed), we held each other, played with my cousin's kids, ate wonderful food and knew that Aunt Bette would have been so happy to know we were all together and supporting and loving each other.
Aunt Bette was a teacher, photographer, swim coach, aunt, friend, sister and so much more. Her creativity was contagious, which made her a great teacher and influence to everyone. This is evident by the numerous postings and stories that are being posted on her obituary and our social media posts. One of the many things that stuck with me that she would say and emulate was "nice matters". I have made references to it in this blog even, although I would have to do a search, as it such a part of my everyday, that I could have used it a million times naturally in this blog and in conversations.
Everyone grieves differently. I had a really hard time reading the condolences on my and my family's announcements. I did not even acknowledge or comment on any of them. I didn't have words. I didn't have words that could express my gratitude and sorrow. I sobbed while finding a picture to post. I sobbed reading my sister's post. I sobbed simply thinking about how Christmas will be so different. I sobbed writing this damn blog post. (I can just hear Aunt Bette yell at me. "Language Kelsey! Your daughter is going to learn to swear by the time she can talk!"). It's going to be thoughts and stories like that that will make me smile and remember her day by day.
I have lost members of my family and even a good friend. The best way I can think of to carry their memories is to let their influence shine in my everyday. I adopted the saying "Can Do" in memory of my friend, who was a Seabee in the Navy. I make an effort to be the best friend I can be in memory of my grandmother, who was the best friend you could ask for. Aunt Bette will be memorialized through me with the philosophy of "Nice Matters".
There will be trinkets, jewelry, furniture, family stories and genealogical documents that I'm sure will be dispersed that will remind us of her every day. But things are no replacement for how we can let her improve us moving forward. I think I have written this blog post 20 times over and I don't think it will ever be perfect enough to do her justice.
So, please hug your loved ones. Call that person you've been thinking about calling. Right now. do it.
If I haven't told you recently, I love you. The person reading this, I love you and cherish your friendship, even if we have not met face-to-face.
Rest in peace Aunt Bette. You were and are loved by many and will be missed by all.