Originally written in 2015
This is my great aunt June or “Auntie” as she was known to everyone. Auntie never married nor had children. She had advice or opinions on everything but never had the life experience to back up some of her advice but that never fazed her!. She lived in a tiny apartment with her mother until her mother passed away and then she lived out the rest of her life in the little apartment. She had a great career as an administrative assistant and saved all her money for retirement and her nieces and nephews inheritence. I spent a great deal of the last years of her life taking her from one appointment to the other. Auntie never had a car or learned to drive. She loved Jesus and was devoted to her small little Lutheran church. Each time I spent with her she would tell me of what type of salad she was preparing for some Sunday church luncheon. She was especially proud of her three bean salad. She had many friendships and spent time with close friends but on her terms.
I sometimes was envious of her uncomplicated life. She never knew the aggravation of a husband leaving his dirty socks on the floor, or the fear of a spouse not returning home from a tour of duty. She never spent one sleepless night with an infant with a fever or a child who vomited their entire strawberry milkshake all over the backseat of a car. She never had to face the fear of having a teenager who got their driver’s license or see the disappointment in her child’s eyes over a hurt.
Today was one of those days I wished for the uncomplicated life for just a moment. To not face the pain which sometimes comes with raising children. Then I realized with out the risk of pain there were no rewards or those times in life when are children give us unimaginable joy. Life isn’t about easy. It’s hard, it’s complicated and it’s super messy.
Towards the end of her life, during lunch one day Auntie did confess how she wished she had taken more risks and lived more life. I didn’t have the courage to ever ask her why she hadn’t married, and I wish I had.
Isolation and distance might protect us from pain but it also keeps us from real joy.
What are some ways you isolate yourself to protect from pain? How can you turn it into real joy instead?