Monday, 4 June 2012

The Facebook Friend


'I don't do Facebook', I said, laughing, when my Aunt Olivia asked. She tried to convince me, saying it was a great way to stay in touch, but I demurred. It didn't stop her from finding me on Facebook, though - an empty account set up so a friend could show me some photos - and sending me a friend request. It popped up in my email but I didn't confirm, and so got used to seeing a reminder each time Facebook tried to snarl me.

‘You have a friend request!’ it would say, and there my aunt would be, smiling out from her profile picture.

We were in touch in other ways, of course. She was the friendly face who understood me, the warm voice on the end of a phone, the person who always remembered what was important to me, who took time to ask about my life. We shared the same (rather dark) sense of humour. She got on with everyone – a practical, pro-active person who didn’t dwell in the past but lived for the moment, for the future.

Perhaps familiar with other families who have experienced a lot of bereavement, there is a tendency to look behind, to think that the best of times have already been and gone, something I found very hard to deal with as a young teenager still growing into her life. Olivia’s way of looking ahead was always a much needed breath of fresh air to me and yet she was incredibly thoughtful, such as suggesting that we hold a party on the 20th anniversary of my dad’s death to celebrate his life, and being there for me – and for my mum especially – in so many ways.

When we found out Olivia had cancer a few years ago it was devastating. She took it in her stride, and her positive outlook and strength sent it into remission. During this time we lost another aunt of mine, also to cancer. It felt like there had been some sort of impossible trade – one aunt had sadly passed away but that meant the other stayed, surely?

Sometimes answers to questions stay silent.

The cancer came back in March with frightening speed. Now the talk was palliative, not cure. Now we all heard the invisible clock relentlessly ticking. But we tried to bat that far, far away as we chatted around her bedside. She described her illness as ‘such an inconvenience’ and jokingly told me to ‘keep the receipt’ for the slippers I bought her. She stayed her upbeat, practical self, despite the discomfort and pain, surrounded by beautiful flowers and everyone who loved her.

She passed away last week aged 56.

I opened my email today. ‘Olivia wants to be friends with you’ says the Facebook reminder.

I hope my aunt realised that I was always her friend.


Aunty Olly
1955 - 2012




35 comments:

L. G. Keltner said...

I'm sorry for your loss. It's never easy. Judging from what you wrote about your aunt, it seems like she had a good sense of humor. I'm sure she knew you were always her friend.

jabblog said...

This is a lovely tribute to your much-loved aunt. So young to die, so hard to accept - I hope your memories of her will help you in the difficult times ahead. Of course, she knew you were always her friend.

Mise said...

Dear Jayne, I'm glad she leaves you with the memory of such a good friend, and I suspect something of her spirit lives on in yourself. I'm sorry she had to go so soon. Many good wishes to you and your family in these difficult times.

Old Kitty said...

Oh Jayne. I am so so sorry. I remember the post when your beautiful aunt Shirley died and now your wonderful Aunt Olivia. I am so so sorry. I spit at cancer. I hate it. :-(

Big hugs, take care
x

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

A heart-rending story with sun shining through.
I am currently reading a memoir in the same vein, how devastating a loss of a loved one is along with the feel-good parts of the journey: Mom's on the Roof (And I Can't Get Her Down) by Cynthia Meyers Hanson.
My prayers are with you.

Kyra Lennon said...

So sorry for you loss. No doubt she knew you were always her friend. :)

catdownunder said...

Hugs

Maria Zannini said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your Aunt Olly. But what a beautiful tribute you gave her.

Not only did she know you were a friend, but that she was also loved.

Take care, hon.

L.A Speedwing said...

Very touching. Sorry for your loss Jayne.

L. G. Keltner said...

I'm writing to let you know that I'm giving you a Booker Award. Come to my blog to pick it up.

lgkeltner.blogspot.com

Jenny Beattie said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. It's just rotten. xx

Lindsay said...

A lovely tribute, (and a very good post.) No doubt about it, she knew.

Talli Roland said...

She looks and sounds like a lovely woman, full of life and spirit. What a great tribute.

Out on the prairie said...

A warm tribute to a lovely lady

The Golden Eagle said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Wonderful tribute!

Anne Gallagher said...

Please accept my deepest condolences.

Happy Frog and I said...

Oh Jayne, it takes a lot to make me cry but I've got tears running down my face after reading this. Wish I could give you a big hug. x

D.J. Kirkby said...

Oh how sad and wonderful and beautiful all at the same time. I am sure your aunt knows that you have always been her friend. Stupid cancer. STOOOPID greedy cancer!

Debbie said...

Sorry to hear your news.x

Dolly said...

I remember a previous tribute to another Auntie. It is just so unfair and I feel so sad for you and send you a big, big hug across the miles. Of course she knew how much you loved her, and the photo shows her warmth, spirit and kindness.

Shirley Wells said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. It's always hard to accept the loss of a loved one who was so young.

A lovely tribute. She will have known you were her friend.

Jenny Woolf said...

Your piece was heartbreaking, and she looks such an upbeat and lovely person. I am sure she was glad to know how much you appreciated her.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Jayne, I have thought of you all this morning. You have written such a lovely tribute to your wonderful aunt. I'm sure she knows. My prayers are with you. I am going through the same thing now with my mom and I know how hideous cancer can be. xoxo, pamela

idil o. calvero said...

I am sorry for your loss dear Jayne. I wish for all who have the least bit of kindness in their hearts would get the chance to be remembered like this.

Loves,

mitsubishi klima servisi said...

Beautiful post. thank you

Ann said...

Oh Jayne, I am so sorry for the loss you and your family are dealing with. Your Aunt Olly sounds like a wonderful role model..to greet each day with a positive and cheerful attitude. My thought and prayers are with you. *hugs*

snafu said...

I am sorry to hear of your loss. I have been out of touch or I would have responded sooner. She must have meant a lot to you and from the tone of your post, she must have been a lovely person.

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

So sorry to hear of your loss... Olivia looks and sounds like a beautiful person... sigh...
RIP

Claudette Anne Pearson said...

I'm very sorry for your loss.

fairyhedgehog said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

My condolences for your loss. She sounds like a wonderful aunt and friend. I'm sure did know how you felt.

KarenG said...

Oh how sad, and she was very young too. My mom died 2 weeks before her birthday and later I got the Facebook notice that it was her birthday and wouldn't I like to wish Lucille a happy birthday? Yes, I sure would, Facebook, but how powerful are you anyway? Pretty sure your reach doesn't extend that far.

Jayne said...

Thank you to everyone who commented on this post. It was very comforting to read your messages during such a sad and difficult time, and it will always be a source of comfort for me to reflect upon them in the future. x

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

My condolences. Jayne. I haven't been reading blogs much recently, as I had foot surgery and have been spending recovery time with my nose buried in books. She sounds like a wonderful aunt.

Rose said...

Gosh this is so sad, you look a little a like. I'm sure she knew xx