Great Aunt Bridgette

“Aunt Bridgette has been diagnosed with cancer,” Dad said. Silence. Images of her face flash through minds, and all attention is lost to memories of those already lost to cancer. There have been too many. “Aunt Bridgette died last night,” Dad said. More silence. Slight pricking of tears at the eyes. Memories play in minds, big jewelry and kind hugs, a familiar presence. Gone. Walking up the path. The location is the cemetery in Hamilton, there are people gathered on the side of the road next to their cars, trying not to weep. An “I'm so sorry Christina,” is murmured to Aunt Bridgette's daughter. She smiles weakly, her eyes glassy. We walk, a silent parade of sombre, well dressed people, the bright day dampened by the reason for the gathering. Some of these people have not seen each other in years, and half of the thoughts are wishes that they were not seeing each other for this reason. Walking up the path, wind tossed hair and ran it's fingers through clothing. The priest opens the book, and says a few words. Then, Christina and her kids stepped up to speak. They spoke words of love, of happiness, of thanks, of warmth, of memories. Of love. Of sacrifice. And there was one thing said, by Christina. Christina told us that Aunt Bridgette knew she was going to die. She said, “Let me go,”. However, it wasn't that part that made the group of family get so teary. It was seeing little Ryan talk about Grandma. Talk about how much fun they had, and me looking over to see Nonno standing right there. Standing tall and proud, yet so weak at the same time. This is a man who has had two heart attacks, and survived them both. This is a man who has nine grandchildren, and loves every single one of them. This is a man. A man. A man who is in his mid eighties. A man. A man who will die. He will die. He will die. He will die. He can't die. Tears flood down cheeks, hot and heavy and full of emotion. Head turns into Mom's shoulder, and the weeping begins. Nonno. This man who has done so much for so many people. This man who cares so much for his family, cares so much about his friends, and even cares for strangers. This man who played such a big part in my life, and whom I love so much I cannot express it. Head turns to look at him, the wind blows, and a cloud passes in front of the sun. Hair ruffles, tears dry, nose runs. He will die. I don't want him to die. And then I lose my marbles.

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