Honoring A Shining Life: My Beloved Tia

A thought came to mind that it was time to call my Auntie Joana for our monthly chat. However, it wouldn’t be possible as calls are not made to heaven. The tears then start to build in my eyes and slowly trickly down my face.

On July 1st, 2022, my Tia (Aunt in Portuguese) went in peace surrounded by loved ones as she had her last breath on earth. She no longer had to suffer in pain as the cancer was only deteriorating her with each passing day. But her loss, has chocked me up inside.

It feels surreal not to hear her laughter or enjoy her many stories of wisdom that I adored hearing. I can no longer give her those big warm embraces that was full of love when I would visit. It just feels so different.

As we get older, we have to learn to adapt to the life cycle but even though we go through many in our lifetime, it never gets easier.

The Start of A Tia and Niece Bond

I have fond memories of visiting my Aunt Joana’s house many (many) times in my childhood. It felt like it was a second home to me full of love and a lot of cousins who I looked up to. We had many special occasions there and I remember how much my aunt smiled. Her smile alone brought so much comfort that you felt comfortable in her home.

As I grow older, my love for my Tia only grew and I built a very special bond with her. It could be that I would see her often or even the fact that she was a strong woman figure in my life. Either way, she was just so incredibly special. Anyone who knew me, knew about my Tia Joana. Many of my closest friends even got to meet her because she was that family member that everyone should meet.

My beloved Tia who is sitting, my mom and me in yellow.

Everyone just loved her so much as she was always so kind and she was very entertaining. Always making jokes, laughing and sharing such wonderful stories with everyone. These were all qualities that I just admire in any human. Many of her qualities reminded me a lot of my maternal grandmother…

When I was the first to get the news that my maternal grandmother passed away, my Tia was the first I called since she was the eldest. I remember her being so calm and telling me how strong I am. My Tia assured me that everything would be ok and she would tell the rest of the family. She said if I needed anything to let her know and to be strong for my mom. I took her advice to heart and stayed strong for my mom. Truly thankful to her for that day as I couldn’t keep myself together and she managed to calm me down. A skill that is hard for anyone to do with me in all honesty but she knew the comforting words that I needed to hear in that moment.

Life Journey With Tia’s Love

Into adulthood, I kept my relationship as strong as I could with my Tia. I would visit and call when I could. We would talk for hours and I enjoyed all our talks. When I got married, she was so happy for me and my husband who she adored! However, when I finally got to tell her that I was expecting my daughter, Nikki…I think she was beyond thrilled.

During my pregnancy, my Tia would often ask if I promise to visit her with my daughter. I always told her that of course I would as I want my daughter to know one of the most important people in my life.  With the day finally arrived, my cousin was kind enough to bring my Tia to see me a few days after I got home from the hospital! It was a big occasion as we all waited a very long time for our Nikki.

My Tia meeting Nikki for the first time.

As my Tia held Nikki in her arms, I could see how much she loved my little girl. I made sure to visit her with Nikki as much as I could through the years. Nikki loved my Tia as much as I did and the feeling was mutual with my Tia. But then again, it was hard not to love my Tia!

Since having Nikki, my conversations with my Tia continued when I had a spare moment. Sometimes I had to make sure to make that spare moment happen and when I couldn’t connect with her, my mom would tell my Tia of how I am thinking of her. My Tia was always very understanding when life would get too busy. Maybe that is why when I would call, she would tell me how much she appreciates our conversations and she loved to speak with me. She would then end the call with, I Love You So Much! I would tell her that I love her so much too… Writing this now, hurts a bit as I don’t have her telling me that anymore and I can’t tell her the same.

Nikki loved taking photos with Tia.

Final Goodbye

My Tia was battling a few health issues including cancer that we saw took pieces of her away. It was getting harder to understand her speech and I wasn’t able to speak to her as often as I wanted to. My mom was able to speak to my Tia and my mom would keep me posted as best as possible.

Last year in June, we were told that my Tia would not have much time left. I was devastated hearing that and just had to see her again even if it was for the last time. I got my daughter and my Frenchie ready to head to the city to see my Tia. The immediate family were there and it was nice seeing everyone. For health and safety reasons, there were limits of how many people could stay in the room to see her.

Now not many people get the chance to say goodbye and I felt like this moment I would never get again. So I braced myself to be strong and tell my Tia how much I love her one last time. As I entered her room, my heart just sank so deep that I felt numb. My Tia looked so different but her eyes lit up when she saw me enter the room. We chatted for a bit and it was the hardest moment of my life. I know she wanted me to stay a bit longer but my heart couldn’t take it anymore as I felt my eyes swell with tears. I gave her a kiss and told her how much I love her. She told me that she loves me too.

As soon as I left the room, the tears starting streaming. My mom asked me if I was ok and I told her that this was too hard. That night when I got home, I cried in my room until I had no more tears left. I couldn’t believe there would be more memories to make and that my beloved Tia could go at any time now.

Always in my Heart

I will forever remember and cherish the memories I made with my Tia. Forever grateful for the positive impact she had in my life by just being herself. Cherishing the wisdom she shared with me and for filling my life with laughter. I will be thankful for being able to give my final goodbye (even though it was the hardest day of my life). I am fortunate to have had a Tia who loved me and my family with her whole heart.

Another beautiful photo of Nikki with Tia.

A woman who shined bright in my life is now shining in heaven. Thank you Tia and I love you so much too!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

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