My Aunt Rachel was a big fan of my blog. She thought I was crazy, but she loved me very much and loved my outrageous stories. As a child, I didn’t know what to think of this outspoken woman who took care of her own yet also seemed to be the mama of the neighborhood. The cool mom covered in tattoos and rocking a gorgeous deep purple Harley, but who could make amazing birthday cakes, whipped up delicate baby diaper towers for baby showers, who balanced wild child with classic beauty and poise, who spoke her mind, but never quite came out crass. We weren’t close as I grew up, in fact I was scared of her at first. I didn’t grow up with adults putting me in my place, everyone let me do whatever the fuck I wanted. My Aunt Rachel was not about all that. She was loving, but she’d lay it out to you if you were being a little shit.
It wasn’t until about two years ago, when I was about 22 or 23 when she and I finally started to connect, first through her annual summer party, then through Facebook, then through my blogs which she said she’d read before work, when she rose at 4 am, and how they’d send her to the work place she didn’t exactly love, still laughing to herself at my antics. She couldn’t wait to catch up on my new entries and let me know what a nut I was.
We lost my Uncle Roger, her husband, earlier this year. If you’re looking for true love, for true soul mates, my Uncle Roger and Aunt Rachel were just that. Their love and commitment was deep. Peas in a pod, Harley riding, loving, fun and funny, Army vets, putting on the best summer parties on their deck by the pool; everyone loved them because they were so real. I can still hear my uncle’s roaring laughter and see his bright red ponytail. When my Aunt lost my Uncle, it was as if she had lost something in herself she could never, ever make whole again. She put on that smile as best she could., but she had been so strong for so long, nearly her entire life… and I told her that it was her turn to let someone else be strong for her. She is my role model for love and the deep integrity and loyalty I’ve seen in her very tight friendships. I’ve closed my circle and I’m holding those girls as tightly as I can.
Before my business started really making money, I couldn’t afford to fly to DC when my uncle Roger passed away. My Aunt Rachel, who already had to worry about the costs of burying her husband who also had years of medical bills before his decline, did not hesitate and bought me a ticket home immediately. AND she personally came with my sister to pick me up at the airport early in the morning, of course with a nice drink in hand to help with the reality we had to swallow at the funeral home later that day.
That weekend, I left her with a set of pearls; a long strand necklace, matching pearl bracelets, and earrings. I knew it wouldn’t bring back her soul mate, but it brought her closer to me. That was the last time that I saw my beautiful aunt Rachel.
When I went on the Ellen Show, just in the audience, she was so excited to just record the episode, planning it days in advance, scanning the crowd for me. When I got the news that a very big talent agency called and their literary agent was interested in turning It Isn’t Slutty If You’re Wearing Pearls into a book and possibly a TV show, she was one of the first people I called, and I could just hear the pride in her voice. When she went to the beach with my sister, they found a shirt for me that reminded them of me. She was always thinking of me in this way.
They found this:
and later my aunt found this for me, knowing that football season was coming up, she a Niners fan, me a sad little Redskins fan.
On a trip back to DC a couple weeks ago, I was going to visit No Pants Baker and the rest of my family, my Aunt Rachel on the top of that list. I was staying with No Pants Baker in the city, telling myself I needed to plan something with my Aunt Rachel, but I frolicked mercilessly all over that city first, got realll liberal over some rather turned wine and tater tots with my No Pants, raged politically incorrect, got unruly in a bar called Lincoln, became a pundit of partying. I promised myself that weekend I’d get to her as I took my godson out to a late lunch. As I rode the red line back into the city, I received a text from my sister in which I could almost hear the hysteria in the little words on my screen.
My Aunt Rachel was in a serious accident my sister wrote…she crashed her beautiful purple Harley only two blocks from her home. They were airlifting her to the hospital.
I tried to run, I had heavy bags and a laptop case with me- the escalator was stopped, as usual, and I tried to run up. I fell, twice, and a man helped me up. I got to the top, trying to run back to No Pants Baker’s, and I had to stop because I was close to throwing up.
My beautiful Aunt Rachel.
I rushed to University of Maryland Baltimore Shock Trauma, just as she was going into surgery. I stayed there all night and the next day, sleeping on the hospital floor at the feet of my aunts and uncles and cousins, trying to coax her back down from wherever she had gone… but I felt her when she left, she had gone and I knew it but I wasn’t done begging her to come back.
24 hours later, we found that we had lost her, she had been declared brain dead.
I had waited to go into see her before we had received the news- I wasn’t ready to see my exceptional, truly one of a kind aunt in such a state. Hearing we had lost her, I held my breath and walked into her room.
I kissed her goodbye, my breath no longer in my chest, and an hour later I found myself alone in the middle of my hotel room, screaming her name out over and over, not being able to stop myself from hyperventilating, as I collapsed on the floor next to my bed. It was so unreal.
My sister drove up from Florida to be with my cousins and I. My sister held herself together well while we were together, but she, being close in age with my aunt, had been best friends with her, and I knew that she was struck deeper than I could ever fathom in my own pain. There, sitting in Rachel’s room, I asked my cousin Ashley, Rachel’s daughter, if my aunt had kept my pearls. There, on her dresser, in a little black leather box, my aunt had kept all of the pearls. I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted of hers other than what we had shared together. Every time I look at a sterling silver and turquoise piece of jewelry I will have her near me, every time my dream catcher nabs a nasty dream from me I know it is her casting the net across its circular frame, every time I see a clown statue I will have her there.
There are many odd things that have happened involving her before and after her death that calling a coincidence would be an understatement. It will be my next entry, and funnier, because that is what she would have wanted.
It Isn’t Slutty If You’re Wearing Pearls is now dedicated to the the memory of my Aunt Rachel. She knew I was a weird little fuck and she let it be well known that she thought I was… but it was also that she loved that about me, that I made her laugh, that I brightened her day with my oddities, and that she loved my stories and she loved every nipplefuck, shart, shithole larry and glitterfuck that came out of my mouth, no bias. I let things go a while, but I am determined to get It Isn’t Slutty If You’re Wearing Pearls in book stores just like she believed I could.
I love you, Aunt Rachel and Uncle Roger and I just really want you to know that I will do anything to protect my sister and Ashley and Joshua now that you are gone.