Entering my best years (I’m sure of it, because of the following), I’ll work on growth, discovery, health, making, writing and building love and friendships. Though the outcome remains to be seen, overnight stays from family are fuel for my light.

Jenny McKendry invited her Aunt Trudy for a visit in order to console her but found that solace is a two-way street. Photo courtesy of Jenny McKendry

In the last couple of months, family were guests, helping me begin this dance. When I sent a text to my Aunt Trudy a few months ago, I expressed my caring about the sadness in her family and invited her to come to Maine. She’d just lost her daughter to cancer, only a few years after losing her husband and a son-in-law. Now a second son-in-law, father of four of her grandchildren, is sick.

She came to stay at my dad’s house, where I’m helping him keep his light burning as long as he can. By inviting my aunt, the intention was to listen and console, but her smiles, listening, laughing and wise practical life gave me more. First we talked generally about her house, dog and grandchildren, then eventually, the reality of the latest goodbyes and others soon to come. She jimmied my held conceptions, which loosened my nailed-down storm doors. After the wood fires and frank, loving conversation about the people we lost, I could breathe in a new way.

My mom died in September, after which I held off tears for quite some time, sure that I’d shed most and that few were waiting. Aunt T has lived with loss for decades now and not only manages, but also models acceptance, humility, love, balance and giving of herself. Such a gift to us.

More tears will get stalled, then fall, since I’ve just begun this new stage of life, though with family staying over, tears, warm words and fiery hugs will seed new life.

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