Aunty

A Letter to My Aunty Joce

Aunty Joce,

I’m sitting here thinking that I cannot believe it’s been a whole year since you passed.  It’s been a whole year since I felt the shock of those six words, uttered from my mum’s mouth.  It’s been a whole year since you were cruelly taken away from us, without warning.  It’s been a whole year without you and it sucks.

The time has flown by and I guess that doesn’t make dealing with the pain any better.  It feels like you should still be here among us, making me laugh with your dry humour and many brilliant stories.  You should still be in the kitchen, whipping up food like it’s a sport.  You should still be out shopping for your bargains, leaving your reading glasses here and there, watching Judge Judy on TV.

You should also still be here to bring light to our family.  Seriously Aunty Joce, family gatherings and special occasions have not felt the same without you.  It’s like there is a big, gaping hole that will never, ever be filled.  I remember thinking how much you would have loved Uncle Selo and Aunty Doriel’s masquerade party.  There were numerous times when I thought about how you would have had me overflowing with laughter at grandma’s last birthday celebration – there were some wise cracks that only would have come from your mouth and I genuinely missed that.

Twelve months have passed, but that hasn’t stopped the pain I feel and I don’t think that pain will ever fully go away.  That pain feels especially raw now, as I mourn an uncle who was snatched away suddenly – not only am I reminded of the cruel way we lost you, but I don’t have your kind and supportive words to comfort me at this time.  I know that you would have sent me a message, because you were so wonderful like that.

August felt really raw as well, because you know, that’s our birthday month.  I didn’t get a lovely message from you and I wasn’t able to send a message to you either, which felt horrible.  I hate that a month that was so full of birthdays is now emptier without you in it.  However, knowing that we shared that bond will always make it extra special.

I still miss you so much Aunty Joce, but the many memories of you still remain and I hope they will never fade.  They bring a smile to my face as I remember you at your best, rather than the tears that spring to my eyes when I recall that you’ve passed.  I just live in hope that I’ll see you again on that great day when my Jesus returns.

I love you with all my heart, always and forever.

Shan x

Reflecting on 2016

This year has been a weird one, a real weird one.  I came into it with uncertainty, but optimism, ready to embrace the new paths in my life and actually make 2016 my year.  However, life is never what you expect and this year didn’t turn out to be my year.

What started out so positively, with a good turnout at my first youth forum and a new job that fitted my situation perfectly, soon turned into negative heartbreak.  Losing my grandad back in March hurt more than I could have ever imagined, then suddenly losing my aunty in June was another major blow to my heart.  The death of someone you love is never something you want to have on the agenda and I’m still struggling to come to terms with the fact that they’re gone – I don’t know when it will properly sink in.

The deaths of my grandad and aunty sent the first half of this year on a downward spiral, which wasn’t helped by the dwindling numbers at my youth forum or having to stop counselling when I needed my counsellor most.  Uncertainty, doubt and self-hate kicked in, with my self-worth at a major low and I didn’t know how to raise it up again.  My relationship with writing broke down with my broken heart, and I felt that I couldn’t turn to anyone.  I’m just glad that God was always there in my darkness, never leaving me or letting me down.

Nevertheless, weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.  Taking part in The Complete Freedom of Truth (TCFT) in August was a huge saving grace for me, providing me with the time I needed to mourn and helping to mend my relationship with writing in the process.  Despite feeling lost, out-of-place and lonely during the beginning of the process, I found my way and felt a lot better by the end.  I loved having the opportunity to perform poetry again and organising the poetry night finally gave me the confidence to put on my own poetry nights in Croydon for my youth platform, Young People Insight.

dsc_0788

Being around the individuals from TCFT was also a great help.  My darling Rory was my superhero during those two weeks and I felt blessed to spend so much time with him.  The beautiful Tina, who has become my biggest champion, has given me so much confidence and support, which I am incredibly grateful for.  It was a pleasure to get to know Sandra better and develop a stronger relationship with her, as she gave me advice and support in some of my down times.  I just adore my partner in crime Ellie, I don’t know where I would have been without her.  And there are so many more names, which I don’t even want to mention in case I forget and offend someone.  The love I have for my TCFT family cannot even be expressed with words.

Me, Nomes and Sandra

Volunteering at the soup kitchen at the church I attend has also been a major high for me this year, as I got to know some truly lovely people and develop new, meaningful relationships, which I treasure.  Getting to know a group of individuals from Poland has given me greater understanding of Polish people and I have gained a new respect for them, as well as a deep love for Eastern Europeans.  It also gave me a renewed vigour to make a difference in this world, fight injustice and change it for the better.  God has given me a calling and although it’s tough to embrace at times, I do want to answer the call.

There have been a number of other highlights, including my holiday to Bosnia, having the opportunity to work with so many beautiful children and making new friends.  My youth forum has continued to grow and develop, with much more happening next year.  I just want to take this time to give a special mention to the young people who have come out and supported Young People Insight on a regular – Andrae, Alana, Randy, Jason, Kyle, Hakeem, Darnell and Rhi; I love you guys.

dsc_0773

Although 2016 hasn’t been what I wanted it to be or thought it would be, it has been special in a lot of ways, full of fun, love and laughter.  It may not seem like it a lot of the time, but I have achieved a lot and grown a lot.  I still have a long way to go in 2017, but I know that God will get me there and continue to bless me, because He is my rock and my constant.  I know He’ll never let me down.  I just hope that I continue to grow into the person He wants me to be and follow the path He’s set me on.  And besides, one more year means one step closer to seeing my grandad and aunty again.

Missing You Aunty on Your Birthday

DSC_0043I can’t believe you’re not here today on what would have been your birthday.  Two months have passed since you were suddenly taken from us and I still can’t really believe it.  My funny, caring, lovely aunty should still be around, bringing us joy every time we’d come together.

Like I said about my grandad, God obviously knew that it was your time to go and He has his reasons, but it doesn’t make it any easier.  Although death is inevitable for all of us, I never, ever expected that your life would be snatched away – definitely not at this time anyway.

I wanted to celebrate more family birthdays, family gatherings and of course, your birthdays, at your house.  I wanted to hear more of your stories, told in your unique way, in that husky voice I love so much.  I wanted to be able to see you rush around the kitchen, tell me what was in each dish and then sit down to eat your dinner once we all got our fill.  I wanted to be able to smile and laugh at all of the reading glasses you had scattered around, but now all I have is the memories.

Reminders of your birthday have popped up, and it makes me sad to think that I can’t send you a birthday message and look forward to your quirky reply back.  You used to say that the best people are born in August and you were definitely one of those.  It also makes me sad as I get closer to my birthday, because I know that I won’t have a message from you now.

I can’t believe that I have to get used to August without you too and it breaks my heart, but I feel so lucky to be able to say that I shared this month with Aunty Joce.  I miss having you around and I hope you know how much I loved you and appreciated the time we spent together.  You were the best and you’ve got also got a piece of my heart.  I love you always and forever.