Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The manicure

Her voice was soft. "Is it weird for you?" And sad. "Knowing that I'm going to die?"

The question hung in the air, heavy and dark.

Was it weird? No. I had been to the funerals of old men and babies and everyone in between. Death wasn't weird for me. Everyone has to die sometime. Even if that person is my aunt, my friend, as close to me as a sister.

I found myself angry at the question. I had come over to do her nails that day not to discuss her death. I didn't want to be confronted with it like that. I bit my lip to keep from snapping at her in anger and for a long time the only sound was the soft whisper of the file as I smoothed away a rough spot on her thumbnail. I didn't know the right way to answer the question without letting on how upset I really was.

So I lied. "I don't know, not really. I guess I don't think about it that much." I didn't want to admit, even to myself, how often I thought about it.

And I told the truth. "When I think about it though I always think that somehow you'll get better. I know it's not logical or realistic but it's what I always think."

She nodded and then we quickly looked away from each other, both of us blinking back tears.

Five minutes later we had moved past the whole issue and had moved on to discussing reality tv, silly family gossip and memories of the times she had lived with my family.

We were laughing something or other when her husband came in to break things up. He decided I had been there long enough and that I should probably go so that my aunt could rest. I still had two nails left to do but I promised her I would come back soon and finish them.

Shortly after that her health took a turn for the worse. It seemed sort of silly to worry about her nails when she was so full of painkillers that she couldn't even respond to us when we asked her a question.

Less than two weeks after I gave her the manicure my aunt died. At the memorial service I looked into her coffin and saw that her nails were shiny and smooth. All but the two that I had promised her that I would do "later".

I'm still sad that I was never able to finish that manicure.


Jill said...

I'm sorry for your loss, but I'm sure that little bit of pampering you did for her really meant a lot.

Word Shaper said...

Jen, my condolences to you and your family. This is a beautifully written, candid blog. Thanks for sharing that with us.

Forgive me if this seems odd, but it's sent with the best intentions. Sometimes we want to travel the complete length and breadth of beautiful life's experience with those we love. But there are times when we cannot journey the full distance. Those 8 manicured nails are evidence of your love and dedication. Those unmanicured nails aren't a sign of unfinished business. They just represent a piece of the journey that you cannot take with her just yet. . .

Stimey said...

I'm so sorry. I'm sure the laughter meant far more to her than those last two nails ever could.

Cathy said...

I really liked your writing in this post - so beautiful and open.
thank you for sharing it with us.

Grandma said...

Stop making me cry.


Anonymous said...

That is beautiful, and I am sorry.

Mrs. Schmitty said...

I am so sorry. I am sure you miss her dearly.

Ben said...

It's OK, it saddened me I never got to show her pictures of Belmont.

Oh great, now I've got that to be sad over, this is a great day.

Casdok said...

Such a beautiful touching post.
I am so sorry for your loss.

Jen W said...

I found your blog from BHJ. This post was so touching. I'm sorry for your loss.

Jackie said...

This is such a beautiful expression of your love for your aunt. I linked to it today. I hope it's OK. I send you my condolences. You are a lovely human being.

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

That sucks. I think you should join and submit this post; it's beautiful.