Mom and I are both writing letters to you. Mom thinks it might help us. I hope so.
I want to say how grateful I am for all those times you took me to practice for basketball, volleyball, and ice hockey when Mom wasn't able to. Too busy she says now, inching her way up that corporate ladder. She's sorry she bailed on you last time for lunch. Stupid, useless meeting, she said. It will probably be in her letter.
I'm thinking back Aunt Becky to when I was five years old and at soccer. Do you remember that? You drove me to practice that day and I got kicked in the face by a soccer ball. I tried so hard not to cry. But I did cry. Blake's Mom called me a baby not just once, but over and over again. She said, I shouldn't play if I can't handle getting hurt.
You heard her. I know you did - even though you always denied it. I saw you walk away and left me standing there by myself as Blake's Mom rubbed her eyes, whining like a baby would, sticking her lower lip out. I was so angry with you at the time, abandoning me like that. Then, a soccer ball came twirling out of the sidelines crashing into her glasses and leaving them slanted on her nose.
Blake's Mom looked around, not sure where the ball came from. You came striding across the grass, arms swinging by your side, nose elevated and said: Sorry about that. I was just checking the balls to make sure they weren't too low. We have to make sure they are inflated enough for the team.
Blake's Mom was furious with you and screamed, you did it on purpose! And you said, Who me? Don't be so paranoid. But, I guess you shouldn't come out to cheer your kid on if you can't handle a little punch in the face by a stray soccer ball.
Blake's Mom just scowled at you.
We went for ice cream afterwards.
I always knew you were there for me. That's why a couple of years ago I called you when the first guy I ever liked Eric, brought me to the Spring Fling Dance and dumped me there. Eric was all nice and sweet at our house buying me a corsage, pinning it to me and then us riding to the dance together in the back of his Mom's car. But, when we got there he wanted to dance the first song with Felicity. He asked if it was alright with me. I wanted to be a "cool" girlfriend and thought it's only one song, so I said sure . Felicity was taller than I, with bigger breasts and juicier lips. They kissed during that song. I ran out of the gym crying and called you.
I didn't call Mom and Dad. Because you were my best friend and the one I could always depend on. When you got there, you said that you were going to go onto the dance floor and pull Eric out by his ear. But, I begged you not to. Instead, we went shopping. You bought me a new pair of jeans and a shirt that I could wear that night. Then, we had dinner and saw a movie. After dinner you said, I need a cigarette.
I shouldn't have bothered you about smoking; I just wanted you to stay forever.
Aunt Becky, I'm furious for a lot of reasons. One reason is because you drove me to basketball practice on Tuesday night, stayed, drove me home and that I forgot my bag in your car.
I'm also angry that the last thing you said to me when I left your car was, I’ll see you on Saturday . Well, I saw you on that Saturday. But you weren’t you.
Someone decided that your hair should be curled; your face was white-white with red blush marks streaked across your cheeks that made you look like a clown. There was red lipstick on your lips. Your eyes were closed and your fingers were weaved together and sat on top of your chest. It wasn't you.
Why did they do that? Why didn't they put you in that black cocktail dress that you loved so much - the one you wore to every occasion? And they should have used your light bronze gloss instead. You hated red lipstick.
I'm so sorry Aunt Becky I didn't get too close to you when I saw you last. I couldn't.
After you dropped me off on Tuesday you should have been at home drinking a glass of red wine from Australia with Uncle Pat, or having a cigarette in the garage. Uncle Pat always disliked your silly habit - banning you from smoking inside the house for his health, and the health of others. But, also because he said it reduced the value of your home.
You should know that Uncle Pat insisted that he help with the wooden box. His wife, he said. He looked like he was being crushed by the weight of it, as his shoulders hunched forward under the coffin, eyes red-rimmed. Uncle Pat looked as if he prematurely aged ten years that day as he carried you out of the church.
Not that you were heavy. I remember the way Pat picked you up, twirling you around and threw you over his shoulder. Auntie - your head bobbed up and down snorting with laughter you said, I’m not your cavewoman! Uncle Pat always said: caveman-meet-feminist-smoking-hot-woman. Caveman-win-woman-with-caveman-charm.
I forgot my bag in your car and I had a report that was due the next day.
When I called you on your cell phone, you turned your car around.
I told Mom, it’s my fault.
That stupid bag, stupid report.
Mom says it's not my fault. That man was drunk, ran that light: poor judgement on his part. The rest of it - Becky being at that intersection, at that time - just bad luck.
I dreamt last night that we were laughing and walking on a beach in Australia, (remember, you said you would take me when I turned 18?) sun setting, salty waves crashing on the beach lulling me into a sense of blissful peace. For no reason you stopped all of a sudden, smiled at me and gently kissed me on both cheeks and walked towards the ocean.
I started to scream and cry, Aunt Becky, where are you going? You can't leave me here by myself! You brought me thousands of miles away from home and I have no idea how to get back! How could you do this to me?
You turned around and said, call your Mom and Dad or Uncle Pat. I would love to stay, but I can't.
You gave me one last wave and a smile; then, I watched you wade into the water. I watched right until your head disappeared into the ocean.
I waited on the shoreline for a little while longer hoping you would come back.
When I finally turned around and looked behind me, Mom was there. I ran towards her still sad you were gone but relieved to see her. Mom immediately took off in a sprint towards me. As we got closer, I could see that Mom was crying just like me and her arms were outstretched. When we reached each other, she didn't even hesitate – wrapping them around me.
It's been a few months and Mom and I are closer now. But, I still miss you. I felt bad telling Mom that, but I did. And she said, of course you do. Great people are missed.
We are both writing letters to you and burning them. Not because we're trying to purge the thought of you. That will never happen. But, this gives us a chance to say the things we never did. Mom also thinks that if we burn the pages, they will float to heaven, and it will be as if we mailed our letters to you. I don't know if it's true, but the thought makes me smile.
Your forever loving niece,