The woman on the bed looked nothing like my aunt.
My Aunt Liz was a powerful, Christian woman with bright auburn hair, lively brown eyes and a radiant smile that was just as welcoming as her bottomless heart. The woman on the hospital bed was a shell, a fragile creature that barely contained a spark of life.
Not my aunt. Not by a long shot.
I had been named after her ( and she after her mother) but we shared more than just a name. We had a connection that would span forty two years. My aunt told me many stories of how she would kidnap me to take me for a ride in her convertible. As a toddler, I was just as comfortable with her as I was with my own mother.
My mother had been extremely close to my Aunt Liz. My mother had raised her when my grandmother died from complications in childbirth and my auntís respect for her went deep. When my mother came down with ovarian cancer in her mid thirties, my Aunt Liz drove 35 miles every week to sit at her side. My Aunt Liz had also been there when my mother released her last, soft breathe on that cold January night when I was a mere child of thirteen. And although my Aunt Liz grieved with the rest of my motherís siblings, she refused stand by and do nothing while her sisterís youngest child fought to understand why.
She took me into her home and raised me as one of her own.
I was never a ward. No, that was never my Auntís style. I was a part of their family. She was Liz and I was Lizzie, the daughter she always longed for but could never have. Moreover, I acquired two younger brothers of whom I quickly grew to love. Truly, those years were the best years of my life.
In her home, I learned to laugh again.
My aunt was there when my uncle interviewed my boyfriends, there to place a gold watch on my wrist when I graduated from high school and there when I vowed to love, honor, and cherish the man I had selected as my mate. She was my Lamaze coach and laughed when my first son waived his hand in the air instead of poking out his head and she continued to be there when my other two boys made their appearances in the world-always with a gift in hand. Every major moment of my life, my Aunt Liz was my constant cheerleader, doing what my mother was no longer able to do.
So, why couldnít cancer be satisfied with taking my mother? Why was it determined to steal my Aunt Liz as well?
I wish I knew the answer.
Proverbs 3:5 tells us to ďTrust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understandingÖĒ (King James Version)
I never truly understood that scripture I until now. Reflecting on the nine year battle my Aunt had with this aggressive disease, I realize that God meant that there would be many struggles we would face in this short term we called ďlifeĒ and some of these trials would just not make sense. In spite of it, he merely asks that we trust in him and donít try to reason it all out. Some questions will never have a complete answer and we must continue to believe that God is in control even when it seems like our tiny world is unraveling at the seams.
Life is fleeting. Savor the moments when it is full because you never know when it will empty out and you will have to remind yourself of those days when you smiled and felt as if all was well and perfect.
Now, my position is simple: I will honor my auntís request and stay by my uncleís side as she asked me to do. He was her soul mate, the one who retired early to care for her, day after day. Always one to think of others, she wanted to make sure he wasnít alone after she was gone.
These days, I sit by my phone, dreading the call that will bring the news that she has passed on. In that moment, the cup that once was so full will drain for a season and be vacant.
However, I canít help but think that for forty two years, my cup overflowed.
To God be the glory.
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