Updated: Dec 25, 2020
My aunt, the infant child who never knew her mother, literally and figuratively, grew to be the much-needed ray of sunshine after the storm. She had a magnetic and mesmerizing spirit, and her smile lit up every room she entered.
My aunt was as kind and beautiful as the day is long. She was soft spoken and carried her petite frame with extreme poise and elegance.
She was only 16 years older than me, so she bridged the gap between my parents' generation and my generation. I was fascinated with everything she did, everything she said, and everything she wore. I couldn't wait to grow up…I wanted to be just like her.
Then, seemingly overnight, she changed. She no longer care about her appearance - she seemed completely disheveled - right down to her insistence on wearing sunglasses in the house. Was I the only one who noticed this change?
It was my 16th birthday, and I knew something was wrong.
After six months, however, my concern was put to rest when she once again started looking and acting like the aunt and godmother I knew. Everything was going to be okay, I assured myself.
As it turns out, I was right - in part, that is.
Everything was going to be okay, but only in my aunt's mind. She had devised a carefully thought-out plan for ending her pain, and she was finally at peace.
A month later, at age 32, while my uncle was out of town, she penned a heartfelt letter, swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills and never woke up.
I never saw my aunt again.
They didn't know each other, they bore little physical resemblance, yet my grandmother and my aunt were both prisoners of mental illness held captive by their inability to seek or to find help.
I know their pain.
But, I refuse to relive history.
To be continued…