My Aunt Ruth’s death almost three months ago has stirred up in me many different emotions. I have deep gratitude for her presence in my life, my entire life. I am also grateful to have her beloved cat, Josh, in our home with us. I feel deep sadness, on and off, when I realize that I will never see her again, in this world. I will never look into her eyes or hold her hands. I feel deep peace when I sense her presence around me, when I talk to her in my car or feel her hand on my shoulder.
Even though I rarely feel regret about aspects of my life, my way of focusing on the past is through longing. It is very common for me to feel a sense of longing about an aspect of past. Either longing for the way things used to be with someone in my life; longing for looking the same as I may have years ago; or longing for a place that brings deep feelings of love and connection for me. One longing that I have deeply in me is for my Aunt Ruth’s house.
When I was a very young child, the house that became my Aunt Ruth’s homestead was the home of my grandparents, my father’s mom and dad. My Nana and Grampa. I loved going to their house when I was a kid, to see them, and to spend time there. My Aunt Ruth lived with them throughout their lives, and when they both died, she continued to live there, until her death. It is the house and home that was the constant for me as I was growing up. There were homes that I lived in with my parents that felt special to me, but Ruth’s house was the deepest representation of home that I have ever experienced. When I would visit there, I would enjoy spending time in various parts of the house. There are short stories living inside of me for each nook and cranny. One of those rooms was the pantry.
I had never been in another house, that I remember, that had a pantry. I thought it was so cool, that there was a little room right off of the kitchen, where so many different types of objects were kept: food; pots and pans; tools; spices. There was plenty of storage space in there, but just enough room for one person to stand in there, turn around a couple of times in a circle depending on what you were looking for. For two people, you couldn’t move around much.
When I was very young, around 8 or 9 years old, and I would spend weekends and holiday vacations there, I would love to go in there and look around at everything on the shelves. I liked to look at the variety of spices, and medicines that were there. There was always a pair of scissors hanging by a hook. Coffee mugs that were the favorites of various persons in the house. Cookie jar that almost always had Oreos in it. And, so many other objects that I always remember being there. And, there was a big metal step stool, that had a seat at the top of it, and extra steps that unfolded out of the bottom. That would fit just under the counter top in the pantry. I remember my Nana, who was diabetic, going in there to inject her own insulin. I would often be in there with her, as she pulled out the stool, sat down, pulled up her dress and injected herself in the leg. It fascinated me that it didn’t seem to hurt her at all.
When my son and I went to Ruth’s house one last time a couple of weeks ago, I woke up early the morning that we were leaving, unable to sleep. I knew that I most likely, would never be in that house again. I felt a strong longing for time to be turned back, just to have one more day, one more weekend in that house. I walked into the pantry, touching objects, taking some with me, and feeling a deep sense of loss and grief. That room, the memories in it for me seemed almost palpable. They were lingering in the air. I tried to imagine other objects on these shelves, and that seemed impossible to comprehend. This is the only way that it should ever be, like in a museum.
I feel so grateful today for the time that I got to have my Aunt Ruth in my world, and to be in a home that will never leave my heart and mind. And, even with longing, the bigger part of my memories is a deep feeling of love, connection, and peace. The pantry and all parts of that house will always live in me.