My Dearest Aunt T,

My Dearest Aunt T,

Let me start by saying that I love you so so much. I wish that the reason for me writing this letter was because you were about to win an award or something and I had the privilege to watch you receive a great honor. You deserve all the honors. However, the reason for this letter is because you finally got to meet Jesus face to face (what feels like) far too early.

On the one hand, I am thrilled that you are now dancing in the presence of our Savior. What’s He like? I mean, up close. Does He have a beard? Are His eyes warm? What does He sound like? What does He smell like? I like to think He smells like roses or lavender…at least a little bit.  I can only imagine how healed and whole you feel. I know you were in so much pain. Do you remember the pain? Probably not. That’s good. 

Is it bright there? In Heaven, that is. Is it warm? How does the grass feel on your toes? I bet the food smells and tastes amazing. Oh, and the music! I’m sure you’ve already joined in with the singing, haven’t you? Your glorified voice is probably bringing so much joy to the heart of the Father. Your earthly voice did the same…it brought joy to all of us. 

I’m so happy for you, Aunt T, but I’m also really, really sad. 

I’m sad because I won’t receive one of your hugs again. You know, how you would just squeeeeeze so tightly?. Those hugs had the power to make anyone feel simultaneously safe and loved. I’m sad because I won’t get to hear your laugh anymore. Oh man, Aunt T, your laugh could fill a cathedral. What joy you had simply because you were alive and because you believed that God was good. I always admired that about you. I’m sad because I won’t get to see the way you relaxed, yet lit up whenever you got to spend time with your siblings. Being present for a Duckenfield reunion is by far one of the best things I’ve witnessed—what a privilege it is to be a part of this family, isn’t it? Quirks and all, we’re a great bunch. I’m sad because I won’t get to hear you speak anymore. I’ll miss just the regular way you talked or the hilarious inflections you’d put on words, just because. I can hear our conversation now:  “Aunt T, may I have some of the juice in the fridge?” “Why yes, of course dahhhling.” You loved to perform and put on a show. Did you know I’ve wanted to be just like you since I was a kid?  I’m sad because I won’t get to see that beautiful smiles of yours. You’re so radiant. I’m sad because so many people won’t get to experience the sheer pleasure of meeting you, talking to you, laughing with you, sharing a meal with you. To know you, Aunt T, is to love you. 

But while I am sad, like I said earlier, I’m also happy. Aunt T, you’re with Jesus now! You heard him say to you, “Well done, Thy good and faithful servant.” You are free from sadness and sorrow and pain and hurt and grief. You are filled to the brim with joy and love and peace. Your faith has been turned to sight. What you’ve hoped for is now your reality. Hallelujah!

Aunt T, we love you deeply and we all miss you terribly. Honestly, it still doesn’t feel real. It’s so weird—peace and pain aren’t mutually exclusive. The last time I saw you, something you couldn’t stop sharing with Leila and me was “Just trust Him. Girls, just trust Him.” You were adamant about the way the Lord provides for His children and How much love He has to lavish on us and all we needed to do was trust Him…

I’m trying Aunt T, but it’s hard…but I know you’re right and I know you’d want us all to run to Jesus now. I know He understands our sorrow and I know that He is delighted to have you back. 

So, until we meet again. Auntie Cortina, I dance, I laugh, I sing, I eat, I wear bright colors in your honor because you loved life; and I love you…so so much, 

Jayna

P.S. Remember that time when I was about 9 or 10 and you told me that I’d look cute with a nose ring and then remember when I graduated high school I got my nose pierced and I told my mom that the reason I had to get one was because you said I’d look cute with one and then when I finally showed it to you years later you told me that your comment about my cuteness wasn’t necessarily permission to get a piercing. And we both laughed and then you said…”I mean, you do look really cute though,” and then we laughed some more? Yeah, me too. 🙂

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