You could hear her laugh from another room. It was the kind of chuckle that made you want to laugh and smile all at the same time. If you didn't know her, the sound of it was all you needed to want to know who this woman was and what she found so comical.
Years after she has passed, I can still hear it when my mind is quiet, and my thoughts turn to my beloved Aunt. My Aunt D never had any children and took it upon herself to be the relative we all wanted sleepovers with. Holidays at her house were never short of a circus, complete with her half-a-dozen overweight dachshund dogs and her mini-pig, "Sammi" that Aunt D had fallen in love with as a piglet, only to not "take him out to pasture" when it turned out Sammi was not a miniature version of a pig at all, but merely a domesticated hog.
With a full-sized swine in her backyard, hot-dog shaped dogs running through the house, and her most normal acting pet-a cat that we somehow could never convince to come out from under a bed, it was no wonder that my fondest childhood memories involved such chaos. Aunt D. seemed to revel in the noise and kerfluffle. We would all sit in her living room with the smell of dogs that always seemed to hang in the air and talk. At other homes, I would feel like I was bothering the adults by sitting in on conversations, but not hers. I'd sit and try to follow the storyline my Aunt was telling of some latest adventure she had encountered at work. The tonality and rhythm of her voice would make you hang on to every word, and you would think she worked somewhere exciting instead of the inconsequential office job she held. Every once in a while she'd catch my eyes and wink back at me.
I felt safe with Aunt D. When I was eighteen she took me out to get my "colors done" and showed me how to apply make-up. We sat down for lunch, and I decided to tell her a secret I had been holding onto for a long time. I knew things, I recall telling her- things that no one else seemed to know, and I could talk to people no longer alive. She closed her eyes was silent for a moment. I recall for the briefest of seconds being afraid of how she might respond. But then, she slowly started to nod her head. "It runs in our family." She assured me, opening her eyes and smiling. "I know things, too" with that assurance, relief washed over me. She then told me about our family's history of intuition and psychic abilities, and I knew (as I always recognized with Aunt D) that everything was going to be alright.
I went away to school, got married, divorced, and made a big move a thousand miles away. I would check in with my mom and hear how D. was doing, but your twenties is not the ideal time to stay in touch with relatives. I got married again, this time to someone in the military, and I moved with him again and again, each one taking me farther and farther away from home.
I was living in Hawaii when my mom's updates regarding my Aunt became more ominous. For a while, my mom had been avoiding answering my questions regarding D, but now my Aunt was in the hospital, and it didn't look good. She slipped into a coma. Using my intuitive ability, I tried to get through to Aunt D, but all I felt was sadness.
The call came when I was grocery shopping and had gone straight to voicemail.
"My sister has died" was all my mom could say through tears in the message.
I stood in the parking lot and looked up at the beautiful Hawaiian sky. I felt the loss so profoundly, I nearly fell to the ground. I went home and lit a brand new white candle for her. I let the candle burn all night, confident that D had found her way back home.
In the weeks afterward, the truth came out regarding how and why she had died. D had become addicted to pain pills. Her earlier brush with alcoholism, plus the tablets, destroyed her liver. My Aunt D with the voracious laugh and the full-sized pig was a drug addict.
I never knew. My mom, knowing how far away I lived didn't want my memory of her sister ever to be tarnished, so she protected me from the truth. I wasn't mad at my mom for not telling me. If anything, it made my grief more profound, knowing my Aunt felt so much pain she thought she needed to be numb from it. As a child, I couldn't see the pattern of addiction even if I tried. As an adult, I'm not sure that even if I did know the extent of my Aunt's addiction, if I could have done anything to change her path.
She wouldn't want to be remembered as an addict, but she would want her story told if only to warn people of what happens when you don't reach out for help. The beautiful gift she has given me is her guidance since she has passed on. I started feeling her soon after she passed, and boy does she still love to make an entrance. Since I started this website almost two months ago, I joke that she has become my silent partner. She had an excellent head for business, and I feel her guiding me in this new endeavor. She's the only person that I can hear in my head as a conscious thought that talks to me, and boy does she talk. She loves being involved, and I love having her quietly by my side.
I sometimes wonder if I hadn't told her I was psychic if I would hear her as clear as I do. I like to think I would. While she never really got to leave a legacy in life, she is helping me leave mine in the afterlife. Some people are not meant to be on Earth for as long as we'd selfishly like them to stay. Instead, they continue to work through us from home. We may not always feel them guiding us, but they are indeed, there. Love cannot cease to exist. Connections do not sever simply because our breath stops. There is a thread that binds us that cannot be broken.
My Aunt's spirit might have been broken on Earth, but rest assured, she is full of energy at home. Aunt D is surrounded by her dogs, her pig, and continues to try and convince me to add more laughter into my life. The sound of her laugh is cemented into my memory as I continue on, knowing that sometimes, just sometimes, we all need a little bit of disorder in our life.