• Ashley Craib

This One's Hard.

My Aunt Janet passed away Friday night. I loved my aunt very much. She was always one of my favorite people. We used to text at 3am when neither of us could sleep. We always had the same sense of humor, we always cracked each other up. She'd laugh at anything I'd say, and vice versa. She wrote me letters, sent me old pictures she'd find, and made me jewelry. One of my favorite pair of earrings are ones that she made.

It breaks my heart that I won't ever get to see her again. I just saw her in April. I'm so glad that I did. I remember the last thing I said to her before I hugged her goodbye was "I'll be visiting a lot more often now that I'm in driving distance!"

That's the hardest thing about leaving your family to chase your dreams. The question I always struggled with: "Am I selfish for leaving and not being here with my family?"

To which I still don't have an answer for.

There was a three year period where I didn't visit Indiana at all. You live in LA, there are no seasons, and time kind of slips away. I carry a lot of guilt for my long absence. My cousins all have kids now and I can't keep up with their names. Along with my physical absence, I grew further away in communication. Over the years I got a reputation for not answering calls and texts. I hate this about myself. I've remedied this behavior, but it doesn't make up for the years I was out of touch. I wish I could change those years because I missed a lot. When I went back to Indiana last November, it had been three years since my last visit. My Aunt Janet had aged so much in those three years, I couldn't believe it. That hit me hard.

Life doesn't wait.

Life doesn't wait for you while you're off chasing your dreams. It doesn't just pause while you're away. It goes on without you. People age. They get sick. They get married. They have kids. They fight. They pass away. They live their lives whether you're there or not.

It's really hard knowing I won't get to see my Aunt Janet ever again. I wish I would have called, texted, or wrote her more. I wish people had a timer hanging over their heads so you would know how many days they have left here on earth. But they don't. You can't guess when someone will leave this earth. You really do have to cherish your loved ones every single day. Call them more, respond to texts, visit them. It sounds cliche to say it may be the last time you see them. But the last time I saw my Aunt Janet was April 15th, when I said "I'll be visiting a lot more often now that I live in driving distance!" But the time to visit Aunt Janet more often has passed. I don't get to hear her laugh again, or hear her call me "Sweet Pea".

Aunt Janet was the biggest cat lover of any cat lover on the planet. Her favorite Disney character was goofy, maybe because he reminded her of my Uncle Gary. She wasn't able to have kids, so she loved her nieces and nephews with all of her heart. She loved her extra large cokes, even though she was diabetic and wasn't supposed to drink them. She'd do anything in the world for you, laugh at all of your jokes, but also set you straight if no one else in the family would. She was the glue that held the Craib's together. She never missed a family event. I'm sorry I missed so many family events. I'm sorry I didn't visit and write more. I love you Aunt Janny. The world won't be the same without you. Mine certainly won't.

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