In Memoriam: My Aunt Baby.

I did not know how to say how I loved you.

Once I knew you had passed, my mind began to map out the area of three-dimensional space you had inhabited in my heart.

I never knew just how much.

And once I had mapped it, I knew its breadth, its height and its depth.

It was vast.

I was sad.

Your absence left a vacuum in my life.

It’s palpable.

My Aunt Baby passed away this past Tuesday. Her real name was Viola, but her family nickname was Baby.

Oldest sibling of my mother’s five – two males, four females in all – my Aunt Baby was a formidable woman – strong like a granite fist, her mind for most of her life, razor sharp.

Yet she laughed at the ridiculous and the absurd – and that’s one of the things I loved about her. She also had her fussy ways and I know that despite the distance that created between us, she loved me.

The love I felt from her was like the love you’d want to feel from your favorite elementary school teacher, or librarian.

It was distant, but it was neither cold nor dismissive nor neglectful.

It was a very certain and specific love, the dimensions of which were easy to comprehend. And yet, maybe, in spite of that, or perhaps because of it, you knew that she loved you to the near-bursting point of those boundaries.

And it was that knowledge that made it good and true.

It made me feel safe, the reliability of it. The security.

It was balanced, and it was nice.

I did not know you that well while you lived, but your presence served as one of a select few guideposts that defined my life:

Be well-read.

Don’t hide your intelligence.

Speak your mind.

Live with dignity.

Enjoy the small things.

I am so thankful that you were in my life, Aunt Baby. I didn’t know that I needed you in it.

1930-2018

Is it weird?

Is it weird that I’m forty-three years old and I feel the most comfortable, the most “myself,” like this?

Is it weird that I feel like I truly do not fit into any category – especially as a straight male – and so I feel like I do not fit into this world?

Is it weird that I feel like I’m too young to be this old, while at the same time I feel like I’m too old to be this young?

Is it weird that my teenage boy heart that used to beat to the pounding truth of Pearl Jam beats to the pinning, yearning punch of Snail Mail now that I’m a forty-three year old man?

Is it weird?

Or is it me, in my isolation?

Do you feel like me?

Do you feel alone because you don’t feel like you “fit” into any acceptable social “category?”

Is it weird?

Or not?

Am I wrong?

Am I not alone?

If so, I would really love to know it.