An Unexpected Message

Today I received a little message/check in from “the other side.”

Most of you know, three days ago I married my beloved partner of five years, Martin. It was a great day, one in a really busy week filled not only with our marriage but also work and other family obligations. I mean, today was my Father’s family reunion. It happens every three to five years and gathers my Father’s family together. It was great seeing some of my cousins, my remaining aunts and uncles and just hanging out with my siblings, their spouses and their children. It seemed to be a great way to end an already fantastic week.

As the day’s events unfold, we are all noshing on buckets of KFC, pasta salads of every kind, assorted chips, lunch meats and more desserts than you can imagine – I mean, what IS it about “Moms” and their ability to make kick-ass brownies and cobblers and shortcakes and cookies? Anyway, as I was tearing thru my “dessert plate,” reveling in the day, my sister’s partner looks at me and hands me this:

photo (41)and says, as she hands it to me, “Your sister and I found this as we were cleaning out AJ’s closets. I’m sure she was going to give this to you at Christmastime. We have had it forever but kept forgetting  – we finally remembered to bring it to you today.” 

And I started crying…

What probably none of you know is that AJ is the shorthand nickname for my Aunt Judy, my Mother’s only sibling and without a doubt my favorite aunt. My sister was cleaning out AJ’s closets because she passed away – in January 2007, six and a half years ago…

AJ passed away suddenly and without warning – the reason why she passed really doesn’t matter. But when she passed, I was sad for a long, LONG time. It seems almost perfect to me that I should receive this little gift from her today, at our family reunion, three days after my wedding – it felt like AJ was reaching out to me, letting me know she was still “watching” and was happy for me.

I know a lot of people would just consider this a weird coincidence but what IS weird is that I have been thinking about AJ the past couple three days. She was eleven years younger than my Mom but only ten years older than me, so she was this odd combination of aunt and older sibling and crazy grown-up friend all at once. I loved her – STILL love her – and miss her often. She was a crazy kook, quite possibly a borderline hoarder and THE most chatty, talkative person that ever lived but also the most loving, kind and gentle soul ever created. And she was always a champ to me. She was one of the first relatives I told I was gay. When I told her, I remember that this is EXACTLY what she said: “Thanks for telling me, I’m sure that was hard. I couldn’t care less or love you more.” 

So, THANKS, AJ, for the “shout out” today. I appreciate it. And, as you know, I love and miss you very much. I wish you were still here to meet Martin but I am pretty sure you know all about him already. Please watch over us, along with Mom and Mommo, and – no offense – hopefully I won’t see you anytime soon…

One response to “An Unexpected Message

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