Christmas eve, just a few weeks ago, was spent in New Jersey in a funeral home. My eldest aunt, Aunt Eva, had passed away, and the family came together to celebrate the life that she led. New Jersey was cold, and it must’ve felt colder because of her passing.
Aunt Eva and Aunt Lisa in NYC. Picture courtesy of Aunt Lisa.
To be honest, my aunt and I were not close. I spent the majority of my childhood far away from Taiwan, where she lived with her family. Although I benefitted from her delicious meals, I barely spent any time with her growing up.
Here are just a few things that I learned about her from the service:
- She has incredible penmanship, to the point that she was asked to serve as the first presiding chair of the National Dr. Sun Yet-sen Memorial Hall but she turned the offer down because she wanted to be a devoted stay-home mom.
- She cooks better than anyone in the family. In fact, she cooks better than… probably most people.
- She is a fierce ping pong player.
She was only 72 years old.
Damn you cancer.
When someone passes away, especially someone who you’re related to, your world sort of spins upside down, even if you’re not close to them. I spent my two days in New Jersey relishing in extended-family time, and also reflecting upon my life. I thought about all the little things that I was holding onto and causing me bad dreams, my house, my career… And in the face of life and death, those things all just seemed so trivial.
In the end, really what you leave behind are your memories, and your memories are remembered by those who you touch. No one is going to remember the make up that you wear or don’t wear, the jeans that you wouldn’t buy because the sizing made you feel bad, or the days that you spend starving yourself for an unrealistic image.
I don’t mean to be morbid, especially in the new year, but more than ever, I resolved to take care of my own mind and body. I renewed my sense of purpose by reminding myself how I want to be remembered one day. I cherished time. Aunt Eva and I weren’t close, but these lessons she taught me as she slept deeply.
Aunt Eva, loving wife and mom.
As the first week of 2014 comes to a close, what memories of yourself will live within others?