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Two weeks ago I found a long, lost aunt. I had been searching for her for some time and was overjoyed when I saw her photo on a company website along with her contact details. I have since reunited her and my mum and it made me feel proud that I succeeded in doing that.
However, my efforts provided a reward for me that I never envisioned. You see, my aunt is only five years older than me and she lost a fifteen year old son to a drunk driver fifteen years ago.
I have mentioned him a couple of times on this website as his death was needless and a shock to the family. At the time of the accident, as a mother, I looked at my two young sons and thought I understood my aunt’s anguish. I felt for her and thought I could imagine what she was going through. It wasn’t until after 18 May 2006 that I realised I had no idea how she felt. No idea whatsoever. My imagination didn’t stretch far enough. How could it? Only those who have experienced the tragedy of losing a child could understand. I didn’t know that then and that’s why I can excuse those who think they understand now, when I know they don’t.
My aunt has walked the path I’m on now. In fact, she’s still on the path except much further along and I now have the benefit of her knowledge. She can tell me what to expect. She has already assured me that I’m not insane and that my thoughts and moods are normal. She said she still cries, she still gets angry, she still wonders what his life would have been like if he were still here, but she has mainly accepted what happened and moved on.
The one thing she said to me that I found incredible is…she claims that one day I’ll climb into bed and suddenly think to myself, “oh, I haven’t thought about Barry all day” and then another night I’ll think, “I haven’t thought of Barry for a few days” and then it will be a few months. She made it sound so natural, but I’m not at a stage where I can imagine that happening…but I guess it will sometime in the future.
Since Barry’s death I have been in contact with many people who are in a similar situation to me. Without even knowing those people personally, I felt a certain closeness with them that I wouldn’t normally feel. However, this contact is different. This woman is family. And she stood where I stand now. This makes that closeness more concrete. I started looking for her because I wanted to reunite sisters who had lost contact, but I found so much more than I expected. The search was definitely worth the time and effort.