In this series, Grief by You, I will be featuring people in my life who have experienced grief in one way or another. Some will be kept anonymous for those that prefer it. I hope to open the eyes of the readers and myself to how different people’s experiences with grief can be. If you are interested in sharing your experiences, feelings, or stories, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yet another incredible Grief by You post brought to you today, the two year anniversary of Marisa’s passing. This Grief by You post is brought to you by some truly incredible minds. Minds that experienced grief long before most and in relationships that were so incredibly unique. This months Grief by You post is brought to you by Marisa’s nieces and nephews. When Marisa passed, she was an exceptional aunt to 13 nieces and nephews.
Through a handful of zoom calls and guided conversations, I present to you grief through the eyes of kids ranging from 6 to 18. I found these little calls so incredibly eye-opening. I hope what follows makes you feel as many things as I did.
Each of these exceptional humans were open and willing to participate in this blog post. They brought thoughtful questions and authentic, genuine answers. Some chose not to answer all the questions, and that’s ok. Boundaries are a beautiful thing. I am so incredibly impressed with what I learned from these ever expanding minds.
To the beautiful souls that helped create this: thank you. I am overwhelmed with your knowledge, strength, and courage. I am so proud to be your Aunt. Your mind is growing so fast and I am so happy I could be here to witness the genius and beauty that you are.
When I think of Aunty Marisa I think of…
“When Marisa had long hair she would pick up [niece] and say look her hair is the same as mine. That’s what I remember most.”
“I remember the bunnies. And the little pictures. The owl in the pictures, that makes me think of her.”
“I remember the last one that you said, that Marisa died.”
“I remember she would always come over to watch [niece] on school days and I did not like it. I always wanted to play too.”
“Aunty Marisa, she loved having her hair played with. I remember we were in her bedroom playing with her hair.”
“I know her favourite animal: an owl.”
“I always remember family dinners and specifically, her always telling me that I should not play on the computer.”
“I remember most us tubing. Tubing was really fun, when I was like 2 or 3.”
“I think the most I remember about her was like how quick she was to like forgive you.”
“I always remember I would go to grammys… She would always be there… When grammy would go for her nap we would always watch movies and cuddle on the couch.”
“Birthday dates was also a huge one for me. Most of my birthday dates Marisa was there because her birthday was right after.”
“I remember the first time she got a pair of joggers, when those were just coming in and they were cool. One family dinner she told everybody.”
“I remember, having dinner with her, with our whole family.”
“That we played hairdressers together.”
My favourite memory with Aunty Marisa is…
“My favourite memory with her was when we went hiking. I remember we had a lot of fun. She was holding my hand a lot.”
“My favourite memory about aunty Marisa was when she said she wanted a bunny and so for Christmas we got her a very big bunny. And because it was sliding around the car, we had to buckle the bunny in a seat with a seatbelt.”
“I don’t have one that I pinpoint down. I have a lot of different experiences in different situations that I enjoyed, but mostly it was that we were best friends. We did a ton of stuff together… I cherished our friendship and our relationship more.”
“Taking pictures and going to the park.”
“I remember her chair that she mostly sits in. That reminds me of her.”
“One of my favourite memories of Aunty Marisa, is when we went to her house one time and she gave us a lot of skittles.”
“I really like the grape crush story.”
“Cuddling and watching movies. I was obsessed with barbie then, so we always watched barbie.”
“Ice skating, between our old school and Aunty Kyla’s. We would skate there and I just remember skating with Aunty Marisa. It was really fun.”
“When we made the funny little videos on her phone.”
“My favourite memory of Marisa, is when I was playing with Marisa and Sami at Grammys house.”
“I remember when she would take us down to the park, like all the cousins and we would play grounders.”
When I think of Aunty Marisa I feel…
“I wish she was still here.”
“Joy honestly, a sense of peace. A real sense of peace.”
“Sad. I miss her.”
“I don’t actually know, if I’m going to be honest.”
“I think probably love, or kinda like laughter.”
“I know how I feel, but I can’t explain it.”
“I feel like she was always, especially at family dinners and everything, she was always one of the first people to make everybody laugh.”
“Sad that she got died.”
“Sad and I kinda feel like she had such a hard life. She was always trying to fight something off.”
“There if you needed to talk.”
“[I think about] the memories.”
If I could talk to her one more time I would say/talk about:
“If I could talk to her right now, in the position she’s in, I would tell her how everyone misses her so much. I don’t know how to explain what I am trying to say… It was hard to say goodbye.”
“I feel like there would be lots of different things. I really like One Direction right now, so I would probably talk to her about that a little bit… I really do like Heartland.”
“I might talk about the ocean or frogs.”
“I would probably ask her what it’s like up in heaven.”
“I actually understand Heartland and I know what’s going on now. So we could have an actual conversation about it. Second would be, I would just say I love you. I think that’s one thing probably that I didn’t get to say to her and I think that’s one of my biggest regrets.”
“Every night I snuggle with her quilt and her bunny.”
“Hiiii, how ya doin’?”
“Talk about bunnies.”
“Her life was really hard and I feel like not many people really would like sit down and talk to her about her life and how she was actually doing, mentally.”
“Probably, what’s going on and how much everybody misses her.”
“Please, come back to earth.”
“Wow, I never thought of that… I don’t even know if I would… The way that Marisa and I left it, from Christmas eve night was the last time I saw her, I think I had a real sense of peace.. I personally, had such as sense of peace about it and I really had set myself up that way. I don’t think I would want to. I love the way it ended, the way Marisa and I ended. Until I am in heaven I am content with where I am at.”
In response to: Does Marisa come up in your conversations? If she does, how do you feel about talking about her to others?
“Hmm, not really.”
“I think it does, and then it’s like the moment that you kinda mention it or they realize she passed away. I feel like then all of a sudden they completely back off.”
“Some people talk like they ask if you’ve had any people pass away from cancer or something.”
“I feel like her story comes up quite a lot.”
“Yeah it comes up quite a bit for me. It’s something I am very open to talking about… With my grief it was very, I didn’t realize it at the start. I didn’t see the affects until even this past year, where it really started to come out.”
“I don’t really have anybody ask about that.”
“At my school I actually shared about my bunny that Marisa gave me… It was easy and hard, a bit of both.”
Does talking about it with others make it easier or harder?
“I’ve gotten comfortable talking about it lately. Everyone is kinda opening up.”
“I would probably be, sometimes, it depends on the mood I am in. Sometimes I like to talk about it with family and friends when I am not feeling good, mentally.”
“I like talking to Marisa.”
“I feel like both. It’s hard to talk about but once you get it off your chest it feels better.”
“It depends who I am talking to, it depends who I am telling.”
Is there anything else you would like to say about grief or Marisa?
“For me I didn’t think I was a very emotional person. I was very stoned faced inside. I kept that through all of all of us living together at Grammy & Papa’s, and leading up to Marisa passing away, and even after for like half a year probably… I kind of always felt this but I would never say anything about it and I very much just kept it to myself because there was a lot going on with everyone. I was like oh I don’t need to be the centre of this or anything. And then it just started to come out on other people in ways that didn’t involve them and concern them. I feel bad and I am sorry for that… Owning your emotions and grief a bit. Yes they matter and have value but you have to be productive with it. It can’t be something where you can just sit and dwell on it. You have to recognize it and you gotta own it. Yes there’s a stage where you grieve and be sad, but you have to come to terms with it almost.”
What would you like to ask me?
“I feel like it would’ve been extra hard on you. I feel like if I had a sister who was really close to me in age, I would be really close with them.”
Just because I was her sister and we were close in age does mean it doesn’t hurt just as much for you. It’s not easy, but you get through it.
“Do you have a specific memory with Marisa?”
I remember Marisa and I were arguing over something. We were both holding onto an item we were fighting over. Our hands slipped and I accidentally punched her in the face. I remember standing there thinking “don’t tell mom and dad”. Marisa’s response: “if I get the item then I won’t tell anyone”. It’s the little things like that.
“What was her favourite color?”
As a kid, purple. As she got older, she like soft pink and teal.
“What was she like when she was younger?”
She was like a kid. When we were growing up, we were best friends. We fought a lot, but we were also good friends. She was very funny. She really didn’t like messy things. She would lie to me saying mom said to clean up. She very much liked what I did and used me as a role model. She wanted to be twins and wear matching clothing. She loved dancing and animals.
“Did you and Aunty Rissy get along more or did you argue more?”
As kids, we mostly got along, but still had many arguments.
As young teenagers, we did not get along, but we still loved each other.
As young adults, we were buds like when we were kids.
“What do you miss most about her?”
A handful of months before she got sick she started doing this thing where she would text me and be like “Hey please call me”. When I read a text that says that, I’m like drop everything, someone got in a crazy car accident or something. Anyway, she always had something completely random and relatively unimportant to say. “I saw so and so on the bus.” or “I got these new shorts”. I miss that. I miss looking over at my phone and her calling.
As Marisa would say, always be kind and remember to smile.
12.26.2021, 24 months since