You think the dead we love ever truly leave us?”–Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I feel like the older I get the more amazing people leave my life, almost as if I was born too late.  This isn’t to say that I don’t love all of the new people I have met, but I guess loss just affects me more than most.

However, I have lost a lot of great people during my lifetime.  This year alone I lost my great aunt (whom I never really knew, as she suffered from brain cancer and was never herself, according to those who knew her well), and now, a dear friend of the family. 

In the simplest of terms, Ana was my great-grandmother’s maid.  She came and attempted to clean around all of Gigi’s knick-knacks (I come by my packrat tendencies honestly), at least once a week. But that wasn’t all she did.  She was my Gigi’s friend.  She cooked for her, talked to her, cared for her animals, and brought her own pets (such as Roy, the squirrel, whom she nursed back to health) to visit.  She shared my great-grandmother’s love of animals and nature. 

The amazing thing was, Ana wasn’t well off, by any means.  She was also very old.  I remember being told, when I was very young, that Ana was in her late seventies. She continued to care for Gigi for as long as she could (until she was about 83, I think, and her arthritis hurt her too much). 

When my Gigi passed away, Ana came to the wake.  She was crying as much as any of us, but she also comforted everyone she could.  Even after she had stopped working for Gigi, and even after Gigi passed away, Ana sent my sister and me Christmas and birthday cards with a little gift every year.  She never forgot. 

She was one of the sweetest women I had ever known.  That just made the news that she had been diagnosed with cancer that much harder to hear.  We kept talking about how we had to go visit her, especially since we hadn’t seen her since Gigi’s wake years ago, but we were in the midst of planning my sister’s upcoming wedding, and I guess we just never “found the time.”  Thankfully, my mom had been calling her weekly.

This past Sunday, Ana passed away in her sleep.  Honestly, I’m happy that she was able to pass peacefully, in her home, before she started the brutal cancer treatments.  However, I wish I had put aside my own “important” schedule and seen her.

I have been lucky enough to know some caring, selfless, kind people in my life.  Sadly, a lot of them have passed.  It’s amazing how final death is, and how hard it is for those who are “left behind” so-to-speak. 

Ana was an inspiration.  So was my great-aunt Alicia, who fought the deterioration of her mind and still managed to express her love despite not being all there.  So was my Gigi, who held onto her youthful joy, love for music, and respect for animals her whole life.  So was my Great-Aunt Johnnie, who could bake love into anything and brighten any room with her smile.  So was my cousin Mike, who taught me how important it is to put in an honest day’s work, and relax at the end of it.  So was my Nana, who died when I was a baby, and was one of the classiest ladies in the world.  So was Grandpa Ted, who passed before I was born, and is still mentioned often because of his kind heart and his great love for Gigi. 

I only hope that I can affect people strongly enough that they still tell stories about me when I’m gone.  I hope they’re good stories.  The stories that inspire people to be better.  I also hope that I can always remember and be inspired by these wonderful people.  I owe it to them to emulate them and become a better person. 

God Bless.