Aunt Tillie

Even in the end, my aunt was elegant. Her nails naturally long and manicured. Painted. The color of the desert Shimmering like the sand.

I drove five hours from Vegas to Phoenix. No stops. Straight to the hospital. I walked into the room. Said my hellos to my family and turned to say my goodbyes to my aunt.

She so small. Swallowed in the bed by blankets and machines. I enclosed her tiny hand in both my hands and leaned in close.

Hi auntie. It’s Marie Bah. I drove all the way from Las Vegas this morning to be with you. I love you. If Tom were still here he’d be with me. We both loved you very much. You always took very good care of us. We know you loved us very much. Thank you for everything you have done for me.

I bowed my head and wept. I touched her hand to my cheek and cried. I moved my glasses to the top of my head. I just stay there crying a giving her my love. Hoping she felt it. Knowing I was there.

I let got and sat down down looking at her. Watching the machines breathing for her.

A short while later the nurse came in and began to disconnect the tubes. The family gathered around her. We cried. Wailed. Prayed. Aunt Tillie breathed on her own for about an hour until she passed. We played Elvis music in the background to ease her passing. We all held on. Taking turns comforting one another. Taking turns crying or in stunned silence watching others grieve.

The nurse came in and checked her vitals one last time and pronounced she had passed.

Things I should have said. Thank you for having a Navajo dress made for me for graduation. Thank you for coming to graduation. Thank you for loaning me jewelry for graduation. Thank you for slipping me $50 when I was poor. Thank you for taking me out to dinner when you were in town on business. Thank you for always making time for me. Thank you for leaving me earrings on my wedding day. Thank you for coming to my wedding. Thank you for having a sense of humor about seeing 40 year old virgin. Thank you for taking the bus to see me. Thank you for comforting me when my brother died. Thank you for the books. Thank you for taking me to the reservation. Thank you for teaching me to say chitty.

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