Monday morning I was a bit hassled, the way one is when one is running a little behind schedule. I'd been to the doctor's for a routine check-up and was in a rush to turn on the glacier cams and do the morning scans. Then I noticed the red light that was lit up on my phone indicating there was a message. It was my father calling to let me know that my Great Aunt Belle had passed away, rather unexpectedly that morning; 8am my time, noon hers. I sat there stunned listening to my co-workers who were arranging rides up to Los Anchorage for Matt's funeral which is today, feeling disconnected, dazed. Around 5pm a co-worker came to see if I was leaving for the day and I stared at her, unable to comprehend what time it was. She coaxed me to leave, to go home, and I rode my bike through the swirling autumn leaves and walked my dog close along the shore listening to the lapping of the waves against it and finding strange comfort therein.
Aunt Belle was an amazing woman who lived a very full life. I have this picture of her dancing with my Grandmother at my sister's wedding and it is the epitome of who these women are. They are dressed to the nines and they partied that night long after their kids and grand kids had given up and they are laughing, the two of them full of mischievous humor and good natured ribbing. Of her remaining sisters Aunt Belle had seemed by far the healthiest although she was in her mid-80's. She still cooked at her family owned restaurant and took long adventurous vacations to places like Italy. She never lost an opportunity to gussie up, to flirt with a young man, or to dance. So it came as something of a shock that she had passed away although I take great comfort in the fact that she lived a full and rich life.
I'm still sort of numb - I'll be driving north to Matt's funeral this afternoon. I can't wrap my head around these duel griefs at the moment, nor the shocking vitality of life around me.