Dear Aunt Lorraine,
I didn't realize you hadn't been well. No wonder the phone droned on unanswered the last few times I called. Now, you have left us, and I didn't have a chance to say good-bye.
Even worse, I'm not going to be able to attend your funeral. I'm in Britain, and will not be home in time. If it's any consolation, I've already missed one funeral as well as a flood in my town. It's a trifecta of tumultuous emotions and sorrow.
Since I received the news by email, I have been reminiscing. I remember meals shared and easy, fascinating conversation. I remember that you took the time to keep in touch. My parents appreciated your calls so much. Even after my mother, your sister, died, you continued to connect with my father. He needed those conversations. When you are ninety-nine years old, there aren't many people who share the same memories. You even replied to my annual Christmas letters, either with a note or a call.
I remember your graduation photo. My mother made your graduation dress, do you remember? A unique gown with a black velvet bodice and a full turquoise taffeta skirt with black velvet appliqués. She even made the matching gloves. She was so proud of how beautiful her youngest sister looked in it, and of her own work.
Now, you live in your children and grandchildren. And in me, a grateful niece.