April 17, 2018
Dear Aunt Lillian,
Thank you for remembering my birthday! It is indeed the 16th of April and I don’t know how it is that you kept that small detail in your memory for all of these years. Well, not that many years, but with all of the birthdays of all of the children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends you have, I was astounded upon opening your lovely card.
As you know and stated so well in your last letter, my life hasn’t been easy. In a different life there’d some catching up to do between we two. But for more than a few of the past almost twenty years, I’ve endured times that were so difficult that I’d choose specific memory eradication if it were possible. A catch up conversation isn’t nearly adequate. Yet, you are my Aunt. My Dads only sibling, my earliest and fondest memories include you, my cousins and Uncle Henry. You are the one surviving person who has known me the since birth, so perhaps together, we can touch upon some highlights and lowlights.
When we happened upon each other in the supermarket last summer I was astounished at how your appearance hasn’t changed. I don’t know why exactly, but of this I am proud. Dad would be so very proud and of course, Grandma. You have taken exceptional care of yourself and it shows.
You confided to me that you also have struggled with a painful family issue for many years. Quite honestly I was shocked that you shared it with me, very pleased and somehow honored, but surprised. I’ve thought many times about Sally, her daughter, your great grandsons and their plight. Please don’t be saddened by this, but it breaks my heart. We never know what challenges life will throw at us. Some, we’re well prepared for. Others, it seems nothing in our lessons or our experience could have readied us to accept.
You have been such a pillar of strength to so many. Sally is blessed to have you and I’m more than certain that she never need be told. I see photos of her now and again on social media and she looks fabulous. That same bright, sunny smile, just like when she was a kid. The sight of it warms my heart.
You offered at our visit last summer that you’re more than happy to share some of our family history with me. Stories, facts, anecdotes about my Dad and, Grandma and Grandpa, Aunts Roberta and Lillian. I pretended to know already when Uncle Henry said my Dad was his best friend. I really didn’t know that and it touched a place so deep within me that I had to pretend in order to keep cadence with the conversation.
My sister, Jillian has been a history buff for years. I never took much interest in it, thinking about my own memories fraught with fret; always wanting to look forward instead of back, it appeared much brighter. But, Aunt Lillian, seeing you was daunting. Since then I’ve had some time to rethink my view of history and decided that there are myriad important things to be discovered there. Among them, beauty, strength, grace, determination, resolve, faith and hope. Always the undeniable DNA😉
In seeing you I did see something of myself. The me who was there but felt so very lost and
the me who has spent the past few years exploring while finding joy in rediscovering.
Fictional letter in response to WordPress Daily Post
and weekly writing group prompt “write an essay in the form of a letter.”