It’s been ten years today.
You know how people often ask you who is someone you look up to; someone you’d deem a hero? My answer then would be the same as it is today–my aunt Bev.
Y’all she is still the most hysterical person I’ve ever known. Gone ten years ago today and I can still hear her laugh echoing down the halls of any building she entered.
She was in a wheelchair but was busier than any able-bodied person I know. She set big goals for herself and she didn’t let obstacles get in her way. She served others and laughed always.
People also ask where you think you’ll be in ten years. I never imagined back then that I’d answer, “Probably living tiny, parked on a farm, speaking and writing for a living while I Roadschool my wild kids and attempt to parent one extreme child without fully losing my mind.”
But that is my reality. I am 36, legitimately living my dream (with some extenuating circumstances) and my aunt is the one person who always believed I could do it. It was like she had some mystical mirror to see things in me that I couldn’t ever see in myself.
No matter who you are, where you come from, or how you grew up, every child deserves one grown up who just relentlessly and fiercely believes in them with such power and ferocity that they can’t help but believe in themselves.
I was born into a working class family who all still live within 30 minutes of each other. All of them.
We all ate supper together every Sunday around my grandma’s table, the adults playing cards and laughing loudly after the meal was done. A very powerful matriarchal family, I have been fortunate to always have people behind me cheering me on, but my aunt…oh man she would be ringing a cow bell, wearing a shirt with my name on it, and cheering with pom-poms even if I was riding the bench.
I still remember when I got my first “real job” out of college. “They offered me $23,000!!” I smiled ear-to-ear accepting the position on the phone from her hospital room.
She didn’t down play my salary. She didn’t give me a sermon on being wise with my money. She simply laughed and cheered and danced with excitement right along with me.
When I met my now husband, I was a determined, head-strong woman, all of 23 years. She sat me down and told me very simply that I loved him.
“You are insane! We’re just friends. I don’t have time for that.” I sputtered back to her as she laughed, knowing full well that she knew me better than I knew myself.
Three years later, over a venthilator that was breathing for her, my then boyfriend who she’d predicted I’d marry that day when I was 23, leaned over next to her ear and whispered something to her. I watched her squeeze his hand and wiped her tear that seemed out of the blue. It would only be later that I found out he’d asked her that day for her permission to marry me.
She never, ever stopped cheering for me.
As I sit today, a tired mom with really big dreams, feeling like it’s all next to impossible, I remember her encouragement. I choose to use that as motivation, not to be sad but to spur me forward.
Friends, if you are thinking of a kid in your family, a friend’s child, or even someone in your church or community, be their person. Take them for ice cream and ask about their day. Cheer for them when they can’t hear anyone else’s voice. Don’t judge or criticize. Just listen and be there. Show up for them. They don’t have to be a child in need because even kids who seem like they have it all together need an unrelenting supporter.
So today, I don’t cry over ten years of missing my aunt. No ma’am.
I will celebrate by eating something delicious, laughing until my belly hurts, and taking time to work toward a dream that feels so unimaginably big that only she would’ve believed it possible.
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