The Monday before Christmas, I drew The Empress card for the day. She looks like this:
from The Fountain Tarot deck
This card can represent a mother figure or a mother moment. I figured it was indicating a special moment I would maybe have with my son that day. I spent a few more seconds viewing the card then put it away in the come-back-to-later section of my brain and went on about my day.
Work that day was fairly normal. I picked my son up from school and, as usual, he said he had a great day. Our family dinner at the dining table had no extraordinary conversation. We were just starting the bedtime routine when my husband told me my mom had texted him, asking him to tell me to call her and that she’d been trying to reach me. I called her and she said what I figured she was going to say: “Earline’s gone.”
My beloved great-aunt, whom I’d already booked a ticket to go see over New Year’s, died peacefully at my cousin’s home. I then knew what The Empress represented—one of my mother figures was going to have her last living day. She had started receiving Hospice just five days earlier. My cousin said her last day was a good one—she knew who my cousin was in the morning, ate well all day, and even got to enjoy a nice bath. I cried selfish tears that night—I was so hoping to see her again and was going to record her voice, and ask her some more about her growing up and early years. That would now not happen in my lifetime.
I arrived in town to help my cousin with the arrangements on Wednesday afternoon. My poor cousin was already being bombarded with questions and demands (yep, you read that correctly) from some of our family. I had no idea how much went into arranging a funeral but we quickly found our way and figured out what to do. Her visitation, funeral, and entombment were all held that Friday. We’d gone shopping for her outfit and I couldn’t wait to see her in it—mind you, I still hadn’t seen her and I was hoping to not be horror-stricken upon seeing her body.
The visitation started at the church at 11am. My cousin and I got there at 10am so we could have a little time alone with her and to ourselves before everyone else started arriving. The way the church is built, you can see right down to the pulpit through the second set of front doors as soon as you open the first set. We didn’t even know if she was there yet but when I opened the doors I could see she was. It took everything in me not to run down the aisle to see her, but when I finally saw her up close—oh, my, she looked SO pretty and peaceful, as if she were just napping. We laid her OUT—she was dressed to the nines with a hat to boot. Auntie NEVER went to church without a hat and I know she would have haunted both my cousin and me if we had her lying up in church with an uncovered head. One of the undertaker’s assistants was closely watching our reaction to seeing her. “Did you help prepare her?” I asked him. “Yes ma’am, I did.” “You did an excellent job,” I told him. He thanked me and I could tell he was pleased to hear it.
I literally have about a million cousins. One of them is the senior pastor at the church where the funeral was held. He was one of those who’d made a demand that my cousin and I did not meet for many reasons. Apparently he was quite upset about it, as we knew he would be; so mad, in fact, that he decided to show his ass at the funeral rather than give her eulogy. He said many unnecessary things, bringing up stuff that happened decades before I was even born trying to get a rise out of me and my family but it didn’t work. Thankfully, he finally said his son would be giving the eulogy and he sat down—defeated, deflated, and maybe (hopefully?) a little humbled.
His son went on to give a eulogy that I still have a high from and almost had me shouting up in that church. He talked about what an encourager my Auntie was which was a well-known fact. When I was in college, she came to all my major recitals and sent me a little spending money every month. She was the first person to make me feel like the world wasn’t going to end after my divorce. She and her husband were my godparents; I didn’t know until last week that they were self-appointed. Ha! Apparently, she called my mother not long after I was born and said in her sing-song voice, “Me and Orion are the godparents!” She took some diamonds from one of her husband’s rings, made them into earrings for me, and gave them to my mom so she could pierce my ears with them. I was all of about two months old. When my mom told me this story last week I was surprised but then, laughing, said, “Well, that’s Auntie!”
I don’t mean for this to grow long and I’m running out of words to say, but I know I have no more sad tears to cry for her because I loved her while she was alive, and I know she knew I loved her. She was beautiful, as you can see in the picture featured in this post. She was also kind, loving, and always thinking of others. Always. Probably even still. She’s finally at peace, free from pain of that body that her spirit had outgrown, and free from her family doing her wrong—that deserves rejoicing!
At this end of 2017, I wish you all peace of mind, comfort if you need it, and I hope you’re telling the ones you love that you love them every day.