I was seventeen when my aunt Teresa died sixteen years ago. That's nearly half of my life, next year it will be half of my life.
Teresa, you are still very much a part of my life. I love you forever.
I have a million things to say about it, although all of it can be found in the books I write. So, instead I'll share pictures of her, of us, of Mom, of Grandma and a couple of my favorite people.
Who was Teresa? She was a bipolar, schizophrenic, lesbian who had thought she was a boy in a girls body (why do I start like that? Because it's important to talk about identity and mental health). She loved animals, mostly dogs, but also cats and birds. She had the biggest heart! She cared so deeply about the people around her, and she was quiet. When she was quiet, and she laughed, it was incredibly infectious, and her cheeks went all rosy from embarrassment. She really did love diet coke. She took care of me as a second mom, and when our roles reversed and I had to take care of her, she felt more like a sister. Our birthdays were three days apart, and so every year we made two cakes (but I didn't like her cake).
To say that I had a close and special bond with this person, is a complete understatement.
And she's been gone sixteen years.
Sixteen years without this woman in my life.
It was weird, and complicated, and messy. And years after the death of a loved one we tend to glorify their memory. My memories have changed a lot over the years, especially in regards to my aunt Teresa. I do wish that she was still here. She was a wonderful person who didn't deserve all that she endured.
Teresa with her Monkey (and her siblings, my mom is holding the umbrella) in the same house I grew up in. The bedroom door behind them eventually became mine, and I sat on those steps while the grown-ups (pictured here as kids) sat by the fireplace talking:
Three sisters, Teresa on the far right, Mom in the middle:
Dorky little me, my big brother, and Teresa:
Birthday buddies. I'm the one with a face full of a cake:
Mom and Teresa. Seemingly pondering something profound:
My big brother, back when he was cool, and Teresa, who was always cool (I spy... diet coke):
Probably talking to Grandpa Bill (her dad). Also that microwave was a piece of shit. LOL:
Teresa and her dog Stanley:
Ya'll have seen this one before. Teresa, Grandma Jane, and Mom:
Some bad-ass women! Me, Teresa, Mom, Grandma Jane, and my beautiful sister-in-law:
This last photo was taken Christmas 2003, only a few months before Teresa would overdose on a new painkiller patch containing Fentanyl.
Miss you Teresa. You will always be remembered. You won't just be a statistic. I won't let the world do that to you.