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July 25, 2010

My aunt Sylvia died yesterday. I found out this afternoon and I was really surprised by my reaction. In some ways it was my normal grief reaction. The first thing I did was file it away in my brain to be dealt with later. In fact, I promptly went grocery-shopping with my mother.

After getting home with all my fresh produce I sat on the floor along with the bags. I guess I was still kind of stunned. I just sat. No crying. Just sitting next to my bread, eggs and lettuce. I guess I wasn’t ready to cry yet.

I was so stunned that I actually talked to my sister for about 15 minutes and didn’t mention it to her. We got off the phone and then it hit. And once it hit it was kind of bad. In fact, I’ve been crying on and off since I found out. A few minutes ago I was actually sobbing over some butter leaf lettuce while I was trying to clean it.

Don’t worry, the lettuce got clean. And I’ve composed myself — enough to type at least.

What’s strange about this is I thought I was prepared. I didn’t expect to sob and almost throw up. (Which, by the way, can make it very difficult to sort and file your groceries.) I kind of thought I’d be okay when this finally happened. I honestly thought I had cried enough about it already.

About her.

I mean she had a brain tumor. She’s basically been dying for the last couple of years. And in the last couple of weeks it has been really obvious that it was going to happen soon. I’ve been sad about this since we found out about the cancer. Since the first operation, the first baseball-sized tumor and the first experimental treatment. Since she lost her hair and then her appetite.

I kind of thought that because of all the mourning leading up to this that maybe all of my sad about it would be used up by the time the end finally came. But today I was sobbing over the cheese I had to put away. I kind of thought that when she died it might be a relief. And I guess it is. She isn’t in pain and I won’t feel helpless when I go visit her and incredibly guilty when I don’t

And I wish I had known her better. And at the same time I feel relieved that I didn’t because I think that would make this hurt more. And it’s already worse than I thought it would be.

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