Sorry dudes, going to be absent for a few days... my aunt Carol died on Thursday. It's for the best really, she's had an aggressive and incureable cancer for seven years and fought a brave and graceful fight right up to the end. She was in so much pain lately; I'm glad she is free from that now.
She is my godmother and was a big part of my life growing up. The heiress to a spice fortune (exotic!), she married my dad's brother 28 years ago (my mom was pregnant with me at their wedding!)
She was always the definition of glamour and grace to me. My mother is a very simply styled woman who never bought anything fancy or extravagent for herself, always saving up for my sister and brother and I and our educations. I love her for that, more than I can say. But my aunt? She introduced me to the world of fashion, travel, and the finer things in life. She brought me a kimono from Japan when I was six and I thought it was the most special thing on earth. She gave me a diamond when I was confirmed in 8th grade and it made me feel like an adult for the first time, trusting that I could be responsible with such an expensive gift.
I babysat her three children all through high school and always looked forward to seeing what sophisticated dress she was wearing to what fancy party. I will never forget all the days spent swimming with her in the lake, toboggoning in the winter, spending the night on her condo's balcony in Chicago that overlooked the Lincoln Park Zoo - listening to all the animals after it was closed for the night, and picking raspberries every summer for hours at a time.
So rest in peace, Aunt Carol, and see you on the other side.