Wednesday, 8 January 2014


I have started and restarted this post more times than I can count. Words are so inadequate. Tears are copious and yet provide little catharsis. Emotions cannot be neatly shunted into a corner and cordoned off. Another feeble attempt.

I can't remember a time when it wasn't so.

Maybe not perfect. There is little in life that is. But balanced. Synergistic. Special.

Four parents. Four children. A family of eight that defied explanation or definition. A complete octet that moved and functioned as one. My Parents and my Other Parents. My sibling and my Cousin/Siblings. There was comfort in the normalcy of its complete eccentricity.

People marvelled at our closeness. "It must be that twin thing", so many mused. But it was as much a testament to our fathers as it was to our mothers. The acceptance was unconditional. The love for all never questioned.

I never felt the need to clarify the relationship. These people were my family. My nuclear family. It wasn't until I was much older that I even realized how different we were, how odd we must have looked to everybody else. To just was.

As a kid it was all about love and comfort. I never worried about who would be there for me "just in case". I always knew. I had four parents and they all had four children. I didn't live with a sister, but she was a mere ten minutes away. I had a big brother whom I idolized, who taught me how to throw a football and shoot a puck. We travelled together, went to synagogue together, went to camp together, applauded each other's success and comforted each other's failures.

And through it all, our parents were there. They stood like four pillars. Constant. Sturdy. Four limbs on the same body that worked together in a harmonious union. They were our greatest cheerleaders and our toughest critics. Honest to a fault and loving without qualification.

But feels as though one of my limbs as been amputated. There is a phantom pain that aches for restoration of the whole. The desolation is overwhelming and the sadness visceral. She wasn't merely my aunt. She truly was my Other Mother. She taught me about acceptance and grace; about beauty and about family unity. She was the emotional one who wore her heart on her sleeve, and was never  embarrassed by her feelings. She could talk your ear off about almost anything, but she had an incredible ability to listen and understand exactly what was needed. Modest to a fault, she never thought that she was great at anything, but she was accomplished at so much. I will never be able to watch a Cary Grant movie again without her voice ringing in my head telling me "how marvellous" he was, eat some poor imitation of a rugelach without a direct comparison to hers, or hear the name Charlie without imagining her snuggling a Schnauzer puppy. She was my shopping companion, my co-conspirator indulging our shared bizarre love for country music, my lending library, my recipe source, and my reference for all foods lactose laden. I already deeply miss her opinions, her sense of style, her taste, and her love. The legacy that she has left me is a debt that I simply can never repay.

The fissure in my soul is irreparable. We move on because we have to, but I can't help but feel anger at the fact that she won't be here to dance at my son's wedding. I can't help but feel sorrow that I didn't get the chance to tell her how much I loved her or even to say goodbye. I can't help it....but I move forward because she would insist that I do.

I can't remember a time when it wasn't so. 

Now I can't imagine the future without her.

**For Aunty Marlene. A part of my lifeblood now and always.

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