As I reached down to pluck a tiny vine emerging from my flower bed, my Aunt Jodie told me, "Don't pull that one--it's a morning glory."
And it was. By August, there were morning glories everywhere; scrambling up wrought-iron posts, wrapping delicately around wooden handrails. And each morning, the garden would be punctuated with majestic blue flowers. And I'd think of my aunt.
Jodie's laughter was like sunshine. She was a smiling, laughing encyclopedia of botany. Even at her most harrowing moments she'd say, "I'm going to beat this cancer." and I'd believe it with all my heart.
Trapped in the confines of her bedroom by a disease without mercy, she had been practicing the art of eye makeup application. She looked like a Vogue model. "Can you teach me how?" I asked her. And she smiled and told me she'd love to.
That was the last time I ever saw her, breathing and vibrant and herself. Cancer is a bully that takes until there is no more to give. Cruel. Relentless. Get better. Get worse. Get better. Get worse. Get better. Get worse.
I helped with her hair and makeup the day before her funeral. I painted her nails for the last time, a soft shade of almost-pink that matched the flowers on her silk scarf. And I was honored. "I'm here for your manicure." I told her, not the fragile shell of someone I barely recognized, but the radiant soul who could no longer inhabit such.
On August 8th, 2011, my Aunt Jodie passed away--just one brief, fleeting year from the summer of morning glories.