We went into this hosting with the hopes of having our hearts broken. Anything less would mean we'd have to actively dislike our hosted child. I suppose we could love her but know she has a million better options and only miss her a bit, but we might as well have pretended she would ride home on a unicorn because reality for her would not be pretty. And, yet, we threw our hearts out for the smashing. And smashed they became. Shattered and smooshed and then stirred back together with a few extra parts.
Eleven days ago--a few days before Christmas as M and I were braving the mall for a few clothing necessities--I got a tearful call from my parents. My mom's youngest sister--a very dear woman loved by everyone who knows her--had been fighting cancer and was not expected to live through the night. She was out-of-state getting medical treatment and so (against doctor's advice) her children, grandchildren, sisters, brothers, and in-laws all moved mountains and rivers and lakes and fields to get to her. Because family is precious. Miraculously, she turned around and made a recovery that no doctor had seen before. After a few days, they even agreed to let her fly to Ohio to spend Christmas and her last days at home. A bittersweet Christmas was had by all, celebrating the precious gift of family once again. She continued to do well and my parents came to visit us over New Years Eve, arriving Monday afternoon. However, we woke Tuesday to the news that she had passed away that morning. My parents returned to Ohio, my crew huddled here. Tomorrow morning I fly to Ohio for services and some time with my beloved cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, parents, nieces, and nephews. It is a precious honor to have so many hearts connected to mine. To love and be loved by so many, even if it means the grief that comes with losing them.
I see this gift. I cherish this gift. I hate that we lost our dear aunt, but as I mourn her loss, I also see our girl, M, drifting alone in the world and wish she could have the bittersweet pain of losing a loved one instead of the bleak emptiness of simply having none left.
Family is a precious gift. Make peace with them. Be grateful for them. Savor them.