I just found out my aunt died sometime between Saturday night and this morning.
She didn’t call-in to work to say she’d be out, so one of her coworkers checked on her – and she didn’t answer the phone, so my dad, her older brother, went to her apartment to find out what was wrong. He found her lying on the floor not breathing.
All I know right now is that this wasn’t supposed to happen.
55-year-old people are not supposed to die.
Only old people are supposed to be allowed to die. Three score and ten. That’s 70. Not 55. Just a few weeks ago, my great-grandmother passed-on, but she was 98. In 2005, both a great uncle and great aunt passed away, but they were old, too.
55 is just not old enough.
She was supposed to be at work today.
She had just finished her first full week back after having been out ill for a couple weeks. It was her first full week at work since February.
She was supposed to finish her career at Albany County Social Services and retire in 10 years.
She was supposed to be moving nearer to my parents in the next few months.
She was supposed to see my younger sister, her only niece, start and finish college.
She was supposed to meet whoever I end up marrying, and be at the wedding.
She was supposed to see MY kids grow up and get a chance to know her.
She was supposed to come to trivia at Uno’s with us some Sunday nights.
She was supposed to see my sister get married.
But most of all: she was just supposed to be alive.
I talked to her Saturday on my drive from North Carolina to New York, and didn’t tell her I was coming up because I wanted to surprise her. I was in Albany on Sunday, and was the one who told my parents that we didn’t have room in my truck to pick up her dehumidifier that she was going to lend us after their water heater broke and flooded the basement. So, I was the one who bailed on surprising her yesterday – after having planned to do so the whole ride north.
That means my last memory of her is of saying, “I know you need to hit the sack so you can go to breakfast in the morning” and her responding with a “good night, Mike”. I didn’t call her yesterday morning because a) I knew she was supposed to be at breakfast, and b) she’d have been curious as to why I wasn’t at church, to which I didn’t want to have to lie, or give away the surprise.
Not two years ago she had a heart attack, and bypass surgery. She was back to work just a couple months later last year after physical therapy. I told her then that she had expended her “emergencies” and wasn’t allowed to do anything like that again. And she didn’t – she went to work as much as she could. She was out of work for a couple weeks a couple months ago when she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia – which is treatable, and she was on a medication track to keep her healthy.
This upcoming weekend, after my friends’ Evan and Christy get married, I was supposed to be driving back to Albany, and we were all (mom, dad, sister, aunt, and I) planning to have dinner. We were supposed to be celebrating her going back to work at our favorite restaurant.
We were supposed to do lots of stuff.
We were supposed to have lots of time.
Now everything that I had to say can’t be.
Everything that should have been done won’t be.
Now I’m sitting by myself. In a hotel room. In Nutley New Jersey.
Trying to figure out what it is that I wished I’d done, said, acted upon… and now never can.
Saying “I miss you” or “I love you” is too trite. And she’s not here to hear it. So whatever it is that needed to be said, and done, and acted upon now can only be written.
“Tell me I have led a good life.”
It’s too late to tell you.
It’s too late for you to hear.
But as long as I’m here:
It’s not too late for me to tell the world: “You did”.
In eternal, loving memory: Cindy Lee Myers. 1953-2008.