Yesterday morning, as I was balancing my laptop bag and backpack in one hand, my car keys, my jacket, and my travel mug in the other, for the first time ever I saw a shooting star. I have the habit of putting my travel mug on top of my car as I leave the house, both because the mug is filled with piping hot tea and because it makes opening the car door to my lovely Rey (my trusty silver Yaris, three months she’s been with me and what can I say, it’s been a joyride, my first ever car…) much easier. And there it was, a tiny little sparkle on the dark blue night sky, only for a second and then it disappeared as if it never happened. I was so excited, I couldn’t contain myself, I yelped – no, I didn’t leave a review, although I’m sure someone one-stared that experience. No, literally, I made a yelp sound. I threw all my stuff in the back seat (not the tea, that one I carefully placed in one of my cupholders, of which I have five, thanks for asking). And I sat in the driveway laughing to myself.
I have never seen a shooting star before. Can you imagine? I’m 30 years old and this has been the very first time that I’ve knowingly witnessed a shooting star. I’ve mentioned it many times before: I’d say I have had an average upbringing, but the small things that many people take for granted I never knew I missed, so when I get to experience these small things, I’m thoroughly amazed.
On New Year’s Eve, sadly, we lost a one of a kind shooting star in our family. To say that our family is heartbroken would be an understatement, because the reality is, we are all broken. Our shooting star was an amazing human being, beautiful inside and out, words cannot even begin to describe the void we are all feeling… It’s always the small things you notice, like the way she pronounced beautiful, like beaut-ee-ful. It still rings in my ears, I loved the way she said it. A’s aunt was the most comforting, understanding, and incredibly kind woman, with so much love in her home, and so much compassion, and so much Greek food… I have no idea how she did it, but if my home ever shares half as much laughter and a quarter as many hugs, and probably the same amount of Greek food, I could count myself lucky… I knew the moment I stepped through the front door that this home was my home, that I would always be welcomed, and that I found a place to rest easy. I have no illusion, it wasn’t the cute house, or the charming neighborhood, it was all A’s aunt. The way she always knew what was going on with everyone, not passing any judgement, but offering selfless support and comfort without questioning.
See, I knew the second I met A’s aunt that she was a shooting star, a rarety, someone I needed to hold on to. Because just like when I got my first glimpse of the shooting star yesterday morning, I knew that this was special. I cared for her deeply from the moment I met her and my love for her only grew from there. I can’t tell you why I felt that way, but A’s aunt taught me, among many things, what family means and what kind of family I’d like to have one day, what kind of home I want to create, and how to love when times are difficult. It is never about the things you have or don’t have, or the bad mood you have after work, or the laundry scattered all across the living room or the dirty dishes in the sink, it’s about the memories you make together, when it doesn’t seem like you are making memories…
Leading up to the funeral, A and I tried to be there for the closest family as much as possible, which, as you can imagine, is quite tough when everyone is grieving, a constant stream of people send their condolences, and you eat your feelings in dishes that the neighbors brought around. But in those moments of utter insanity and heartbreak, I took a good look at A’s cousins and just like the moment when I saw the shooting star, I was filled with awe. Yes, there is a huge loss we are all feeling, but as a family we made memories together to help us through the difficult times. We hugged (a lot), and laughed tears, and cried water falls, and ate a ton of food just so it wouldn’t go bad and we comforted each other and supported each other and I would like to think that we made A’s aunt proud. Not for keeping it together but for falling apart and knowing that there is so much love around us, that’s after all what she taught us, a lesson I will never forget, to cherish and love the shooting stars among us.