Her name was Alzira and she was my mother’s younger sister. Today marks the 7th year anniversary of her death, her long fight with what started as breast cancer.
I don’t know how I’m going to get through this post, seeing as I’m already crying. Lord, guide me please.
I was the first niece born into my mother’s side of the family, which consisted of 3 younger brothers and 2 younger sisters. So needless to say, I was spoiled with love and love was all I knew. But I had my favourites. And she was one of them.
One of my first memories of her takes place in the washroom of the house we lived in years ago. I was about 4 or 5, sitting on the ledge of the bathtub and my aunt, a teenager, stood at the sink, looking into the mirror, as I watched her apply her makeup. She had this weird-looking metal utensil to her eyes and I, quite the inquisitive one, asked her what she was doing. “I’m curling my eyelashes so my eyes look bigger”, she replied. “But Tia, you already have big eyes”, I said. She put down the lash curler and stooped down to my level and widened her eyes and with a smile said, “So do you!”
We giggled. And I beamed with pride at that moment. She had the bluest, clearest, most beautiful eyes I’d ever seen and to be like her was what I dreamed of.
She lived on the second floor of our old Victorian-style home. I was constantly sneaking upstairs to hang around her, having my mother constantly yell for me to come back down. “She’s with me”, my aunt would yell back and wink at me.
She taught me how to wink. She taught me how to flirt. She taught me how to throw my head back while laughing.
And we laughed. We laughed quite a bit.
Dammit, I didn’t think it would be so hard to write this post. Everything was funny, everything was good, life was good and she lived without a care in the world.
Her mood was contagious. You couldn’t be miserable around her. She didn’t let you. Even when she fell ill, she was always positive.
I’m not going to taint this post with any details of her struggle and her last days of suffering and the wonderful family she left behind. That’s not how I remember her. I think of sunshine when I think of my aunt.
People often mistook her for my mother or older sister. We were always together while I was growing up and though I don’t see it, people said I resembled her. And that always made me proud. She was beautiful. Inside and out.
I was jealous when she started dating her boyfriend (the man who became her husband). I wanted to go on dates with them too. And often times, she would take me along with her and her boyfriend. (Grandma didn’t want them alone together). I didn’t mind that she was forced to take me. I was with her. That was all that mattered.
I rarely walk out of my house in the morning without lipgloss. She taught me this. When I was 14, she told my dad I was old enough to wear make up so she took my hand and led me into my bedroom. She pulled out her carryon makeup case and put some blue eyeshadow on my eyes because “The blue brings out our eyes” she would say. I see her eyes looking into mine right now. And I wish I could hug her.
She didn’t get manicures done. She did her own nails. And her hands were perfect. When dad allowed me to use nail polish, she was the one who got out her basket of nail colour and chose a light pink one because “It’s soft. Pink looks nice on everyone”. I still do my own nails.
As I grew up, the tighter and more mature our friendship became. She treated me like her friend and not like a pesky little girl. When I fell in love with my husband, she was the one who told me to go with my heart. And he got her approval on my engagement ring before anyone else did. She cheered him on and urged him to propose TODAY. He did. He proposed the day he showed her my ring. Because she couldn’t contain her excitement.
I see it all now. I hear her laughter, I see her smile, I feel her comfort. There are days when I want to pick up the phone and tell her about my latest antics or share with her what I’m doing or complain about the fight I got into with my mother. But instead of getting sad and crying
I’m such a liar, I always cry when I think about her I just smile the way she taught me (“Show all your teeth!”) and I look up……
…….I know she’s not very far.