After the how, why and when comes the inevitable reality that you are no longer sharing the same plane of consciousness with us. You’ve evolved, as most beings do, to the higher realm that is infinity and you go from flesh and bone to soul.
These are the trajectories of life for those who choose to live; the final answer is – whether timely or not (and how could it ever be timely?) – to meet our maker and to embark on the journey of ‘the after’.
But somehow those we love never leave our side because they become as permanent as the earth on which we stand, as precious as the memory of our brightest moment and as real as any truth.
This week we lost my Aunt Lilia – Yiya – to the multitude of nieces and nephews whose lives she influenced. Lilia was a daughter, sister, cousin, friend, aunt, wife, mother and grandmother. First and foremost she was a teacher.
She was a teacher to the many students whose lives she touched both in Cuba and later in exile in New Jersey. She was a teacher to her siblings, whom although older, may have benefited from the wisdom of her ‘book learned’ youth. She was a teacher to her daughter and to her grandchildren. And, she was a teacher to me.
From Lilia I learned about taking an active role in family and sharing your voice, opinions and thoughts – even when unpopular. I learned that education was important and was a means to an end – to always continue learning. I learned to behave with decorum and grace – even when surrounded by those less graceful than me. I learned about redemption, forgiveness and benevolence – love people and love them well. And finally, I learned that what is truly important in life is never more than a few feet away from you – your family and your chosen inner circle.
Lilia had a flair for drama that runs rampant through our gene pool and each of us, whether minor, more pronounced or hidden, holds a little piece of her within us. Getting Lilia on the phone meant you were in for a long, chatty conversation but always filled with love and genuine affection if albeit, long.
To summarize her life is simple: she lived and was loved, well. Her departure leaves a void we will all feel for days on end. She was unique and interesting but most of all, she was ours.
Last time I saw her, I was trying to teach her how to use her granddaughter Nina’s Kindle, explaining to her that all literary classics were available online for free. We laughed a little, she told me to lose some weight and I told her I couldn’t believe she was still a size six (not!) after all these years. I hugged her and we said our goodbyes. She told me she would always love me, fat and all – reminding me yet again how much I reminded her of her brother, my father, long ago deceased.
I will hold on to that memory for a long time for it is Lilia who has the last laugh. On earth, I will continue to struggle with my weight, but in Heaven, Lilia will be the size six she always wanted to be – forever.
Rest in peace, Tia Yiya. I, along with a host of others, will never, ever forget you.
A viewing will be held at Joseph A. Scarano Funeral Homes, 9000 Pines Boulevard, Pembroke Pines, Florida 33024 on Thursday, July 12, 2012 from 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM. In lieu of flowers the family is requesting donations be made to charities supporting Autism causes supported by Lilia.