this is the 2nd picture i took with instagram. the first was of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink that i had been putting off.
i captioned the picture "all the dead flowers in my house."
i think it is a beautiful picture. i always think dead flowers look so pretty. i think a lot of people agree – that's why they save them and press them between pages of a book, right?
my Grandmom, Rita, died early in the morning on august 8th in Downingtown, of natural causes. she was 97. my cousin, Rita Anne, died at night on august 9th in California, after the most courageous 5 year long battle with melanoma. she was 46.
my Gram had 12 children, 26 grandchildren, 49 great grandchildren & 2 great great grandchildren. i'm her youngest grandchild.
Rita Anne had 2 children, her daughter August is 4, and her son Charley John is 3. She also has 2 wonderful stepchildren, Simon and Ruby.
Rita Anne was blessed to find her amazing husband Charley about five years ago. My Gram lost her husband, Charlie, to cancer many many years ago.
I realize that i'm stating a bunch of facts and not elegantly so. i'm still heartbroken and bewildered. but there are so many overlapping connections here that i felt it necessary to push aside my desire to not include such a personal post on my blog...because really, at the end of the day i'm an emotional, creative, oversensitive Leo and when i think something feels important, i need to share it immediately and imperatively.
so it felt important to tell someone/everyone that both of the amazing Ritas in my life died with-in 2 days of each other, both of whom found the loves of their life in men named Charlie/Charley. and this all happened right around my birthday. (once again–Leo here–so i'm egotistical [not proud of that..just proud in general] so of course i feel this is of some special importance–like how Basquiat died on august 12, 1988, and i was born on august 12, 1989...)
In the instagram photo above, the 2 flowers in the center are from the bouquet of flowers on my grandmom's casket at the cemetery. people were taking some, so of course i took a giant sunflower. my mom took the pretty pink one.
Gram and Rita Ann are so important to me, and always made me feel so incredibly special. I know that there is a reason for Rita Ann passing so young–there must be a reason that her beautiful young babies made it to this earth before she passed. I've always struggled with feeling unimportant myself, like I wasn't meant to be here (i know–the Leo in me is like WHAT?! you cray...) But regardless of how I used to feel in my young, unsure teen days, i am 100% certain that i am suppose to be here, that I am important–as is every breathing thing that comes onto this earth.
Gram and Rita Ann played no small role in that self-assurance. They hold reign over a ginormous part of my heart. They are and always will be like the sunflower up there: majestic, beautiful, and somehow always living because who would throw away something so special that even in death, it brings beauty, comfort, and happiness to the world?
There are so many more facts i could state or connections i could make, but i'll leave it there for now. My family really is something special–their resiliency is remarkable and inspiring to me. I hope i can continue to breathe in their strength like air, and impact the world the way my grandmom and cousin have impacted me without even trying.
Rita and Rita Anne, may your souls rest in peace, and may your spirits always guide and comfort your family, who miss you so much. we love you we love you we love you.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
-a poem by Mary Frye
*Rita Anne's brother, my cousin John, lives with his wife in California, not far from where Rita Anne lived with Charley and their kids. He and his wife Cary are big on motorcycle trips and such, and they keep a blog documenting their travels. As you can imagine, John is heartbroken out there in California, and doing his best to be there for Charley and his family. His blog has some wonderful recent posts about Rita, her life, and spreading her ashes across her favorite places in California.
You can check it out « here » if you'd like.