Monday, September 7, 2009

Day six hundred and fifteen ... Bargaining.

I'm sitting here with Jodi listening to a record I bought at a going out of business sale for 60% off. My aunt would be so happy I found such a bargain.

"Then it must sound 60% better!", she'd most likely say.

I put the album on a little before midnight of yesterday, and now it is today.

September 7th, 2009.

It was last year on this day, at 1:20 a.m. that my dear Aunt Lynda passed away after a valiant battle with cancer. I wasn't around when she went. This--just like so many other situations in her life--she planned out to a tee. I had a tour to go on with the Young at Heart, and she made damn sure I kept the dates. Anne, her best friend and co-conspirator throughout the last 40 years or so, was called upon to come up from Virginia, where she lives, and attend to her needs. I call her Auntie Annie as she is as close as blood to me. She has been around for as long as I can remember, and I can remember at least 35 years back.

On or about September 4th I remember packing up my things and getting them situated in my car, then coming back to hug her and kiss her and say goodbye for what I thought would be just a few days. She had such resolve--though she knew that she couldn't beat this disease--to not fret and worry about dying. She had, thankfully, lived a full life and knew it. She was the youngest of three and she also died the youngest, but she kept a healthy disposition until the end. She tried to make life as easy on me and those around her for the most part. This held true regardless of the fact that she was one of the pickiest people in the world.

"I want six bananas, Alex. Two that are ripe to eat today and tomorrow, two that are somewhat yellow with a tinge of green on them, and two that are harder and won't be good for a few days. Here, I wrote it down for you."

"Okay, Aunty."

But when she told me there was no way I was missing this tour I had an idea of what was going to happen: she was letting me go, so she could do the same. She didn't want me around when it happened; she told me that flat out. And she was so sick of the meds, the procedures, the visiting nurses, and the trips to Boston every week (or every few days sometimes), and she had just come to the point where she wanted it to end if it was going to end.

This post I don't want to be overly long. I don't want to wallow in sadness; I don't want to glorify the suffering; I don't want to dramatize what was one of the most emotional periods of my life. But I do want to mark the occasion. I want to note the passage of time in an increment that we use for so many events.

One year.

One year has gone by (in approximately 16 minutes) since a great woman ceased to be. She didn't want a memorial service. She absolutely didn't want it to be in the newspaper. And she wasn't too keen on me writing about it on this template that you are looking at right now. But she also knew that she couldn't control everything, and so she gave me permission to print what I saw fit after she passed on.

As some of you know I had an incident involving medication that didn't belong to me back about a year and a couple of days ago (September 9-16 to be specific), and it took me some time to bounce back from that misstep. But here I am, so close to being completely 100% clean and sober, and I have so much to look back on from that point until now.

And in ten minutes time I will reach over and hug the greatest of these additions to my life. She is a strong, beautiful, smart, and powerful person--someone who can spot a bargain a mile away and could, if she wanted to, peel the markdown price tag off of it after getting it home, revealing its original price without leaving a smidgen of sticker glue, yet knowing full well she had found something of greater value than anyone could convince her of right from the start. And there needn't have even been a sticker at all, because it is she that decided to take it into her possession because of what it was worth to her, not a store owner or someone with a pricing gun. There's a life analogy there. I'm not going to spell it out.

I first made contact with her a few days after my last pill, a mere two weeks after my aunt left me. It would take a good four months before we would say more than two sentences to each other, but then again, these things take time ... like the ripening of a green banana.

And so, one strong woman leaves and another steps out of the shadows. This is how the fates play with their toys, as if from a big duffel bag on the floor of a rumpus room. One woman sends me off with a hug, a kiss on the cheek, and a playful gesture with thumbs at each ear--fingers outstretched and wiggling--sticking her tongue out at me as she's done since I was a baby, and that is my last memory of her in my world.

Another finds her way to me first through the the internet--mere days after my aunt's passing--then, through the help of a mutual friend, subsequently turning my world around with a hug at the end of a concert and a promise to continue contact in the outside world--complete with the amazing detail that it happened on the year anniversary of the passing of my dear mother, Judy, on January 11! How all these numbers and events line up is beyond me. I just have to live within the context of our agreed upon system of documenting the passage of time and acknowledge it as it happens.

Thank you Jodi for all you do.

Thank you Aunty for all you have done.

I miss you but I am not alone; I fear I never will be.

Like the green bananas that I brought you so many, many times--knowing one day soon they would be ready to enjoy in a comfortable pair of pajamas--I am here now, one year later, prepared to continue on with my role in life, letting the bruises not depress me but rather show signs of progress.

Who knew?

I say ... you.

Thanks for reading,


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