I got a call from my mom a few minutes ago to let me know that my aunt — her youngest sister — just passed away. It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear my mom cry over the phone. I could barely make out the words that were coming out of her mouth, but I already guessed why she was calling. She almost didn’t need to say anything.
My aunt Fetty has been on my mind these past few weeks. She was hospitalized earlier this year after suffering from cardiac arrest. She fell into a coma but came out of it, and she eventually left the hospital with her heart functioning only at about 25% of its capacity. She was rushed to the hospital again about three weeks ago, when she slipped into another coma. My mom flew back home last week to be with her and her family; the doctors pretty much said that there was nothing more they could do and that only a miracle would improve my aunt’s condition.
I was close to all of my mom’s siblings growing up. They were four sisters, and I have distinct memories of each of them during my childhood. I’m convinced that, as a self-professed mama’s boy, I was closer to my mom’s side of the family than my dad’s side.
I remember visiting my aunt Fetty when she and her husband (a Belgian ex-Catholic priest, of all people) were working for Plan International in Sri Lanka. She made these awesome pancakes — crepes, really — that I can’t rival to this day, no matter how hard I try. (If you’ve heard my pancake story, you know why this is a big deal for me.) I remember praying for her when I found out that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember posing for photos with her with a bandana on her head as she was undergoing chemo. And I remember celebrating when her cancer went into remission.
I know that it’s normal at my age to start having to deal with loss, but it still sucks, and I don’t like it. My aunt and godmother, Maria Fe Commeyne, was a devoted wife, mother, sister, and aunt. My life has been extraordinarily shaped by her, and I know that I’m a better person because I had the privilege of being a small part of her extended family.