Today marks Auntie Mona’s 53rd Birthday, and September 15th marked the 6th Anniversary of the day she passed away. Now my Aunt was more than an Aunt to myself and my two sisters. She was my Moms only sister and she was our second Mom.
We grew up with a single Mom who worked full time, but my Aunt was essentially our stay at home Mom. She was the one who was there when we woke up for school, she made our breakfasts or on special mornings brought us McDonalds breakfast, she took us to school and picked us up, she brought us hot lunches to school or stopped and got us Cafe De Gourmet packed lunches (they were the best), she attended school concerts and field trips, she baked with us, took us on amazing summer vacations, back to school shopping (or really any excuse for shopping), the list is endless you name it she did it. OF course growing up we didn’t realize how truely blessed we were. See sometimes having two such amazing moms was hard, but I like to think it shaped the three of us (my sisters and I) into some decent adults, well that’s an understatement, some pretty great adults. My Aunt had no children of her own and so she had lots of time to be able to teach us life lessons and to shape us into who we are today.
Mona, my aunt, was diagnosed at 30 with Cancer, we were so young and really did not understand what this journey would be like and the affect it would have on us all. After the initial shock I feel like life was fairly good or normal for a while, nothing changed too quickly for us. In the beginning it seemed she would have a surgery and be okay for a bit and then go back in for another surgery and feel good for a bit, unfortunately though the feel good part started to get shorter and shorter and she was getting sicker and less able to handle the surgeries the way she initially could so recoveries became tougher and longer. She was sick for 17 years and to see someone with such a horrible diagnosis fight so hard and become so sick is really a very heart breaking thing. However we mourned so slowly over her, each time she might lose something like the ability to eat, or getting a colostomy bag, or no longer being able to travel, I would be sad and mourn that aspect of her life but be thankful she was still here with us. I am not sure if that is selfish but I believe she wanted to be here, because her sheer determination and her attitude towards being sick was inspirational. I don’t know if I ever really knew how sick she was until the very end, because even when she was so sick she had the ability to still be interested in our lives and what was going on. Towards the end I remember trying to call and check in regularly but really it ended up being her checking in with me and how I was doing.
My Aunt was one of a very short list of people who impacted us huge growing up, my mom and her were the two woman we spent the most amount of time with and they were so young (my mom was just 20 when she had me). So at times I was and am mad that life robbed my Aunt of time to see us grow up into adults. I know she would have loved to be here for our weddings and our kids births (she actually wanted to be in the delivery room as she had never experienced a birth of her own and wanted to be at one of ours, none of us wanted to let her!). Or the fact that she is not able to spend holidays spoiling our children the way she was able to spoil us growing up. Not only that, she was sick so young I think of all the trips and experiences she missed out on while she was living… but in life we have choices on how we handle and look at things. My aunt made the choice to live out her life happy, not mad at her diagnosis or illness. She taught us all lots in her 47 years here and gave us more memories and experiences than some people have the privilege to have in a much longer lifetime.
So instead of being mad I promise
- To share as many stories about her as I can.
- To spend time doing some of the stuff she took the time to do with us. And not take it for granted or wish away these times, but to enjoy the moments.
- To focus on my health and well being. I will try to eat healthy and exercise to help my body stay healthy. I will never take my health for granted.
- To celebrate each Birthday because I am lucky to get to age.
I will remember her when I look at my youngest daughters birth mark and think of it as a kiss from Auntie Mona, or when I see my middle daughters passion and crazyiness. I promise to take the opportunities to remember her as they come even if they make me a little sad I will try to think of them with happiness and share these memories with my kids.
Wherever you are now Auntie Mona I hope you are pain free and enjoying the show, Happy Birthday! XO