To anyone who has ever asked me, I have always said that my favorite song is Gone Away by The Offspring. Most people who know the song give me a weird look after I say that. Not because they think it’s a bad song, but because it’s a very sad song. I think the reason I connect with this song so well is because every time I hear it, it makes me think of someone.
Back when I was in high school, I lost my aunt (my father’s sister) to breast cancer. She had been fighting it for a while. She’d had a double mastectomy years before, but it wasn’t enough to keep it from coming back. The doctors did all they could, but it wasn’t enough. The last time I saw her, she was bed ridden. She was almost unrecognizable to me. There were a couple of times when I wanted to walk out of the room because I couldn’t stand seeing her that way.
Our visit ended and we drove the three or four hours back home. Two days later, we got the call. I was at work (a cashier at a local hardware store) at the time. I got called into the back to take a phone call. I remember thinking that it was odd because they were very strict about employees receiving phone calls. It was my Dad. He only had to speak the first word for me to know what happened. I could tell from his voice. To this day, I’m still not sure what he said. I immediately broke down into tears.
I was pretty much numb throughout the funeral process. Much like not remembering my father’s words, a lot of what happened during this time is a blur for me. My aunt was one of the most amazing women I had ever met. She was smart, funny, and kind to everyone. Not one person who ever met her had a bad thing to say about her. Especially after seeing her right before it happened, it hit me pretty hard.
About a year later, this song came out. I was instantly mesmerized by it. I listened to it over and over again. The more I heard it, the more I associated it with my aunt. When he sang the line “And if I could trade, I would” there were times back then that I actually felt that way.
I’d think, “Here was a woman who was a wife, mother, and grandmother. She was loved by so many people. I’m just a dumb kid. Maybe it would be better if it were me instead of her.”
As time went on, I felt less and less like I should trade places. However, my love for this song has never waivered. Not only is it the song that touches me the most, but it is a reminder of the brave woman who was taken from the world too soon.
I love you, my aunt. I know I’ll never live up to you, but I hope that you’re proud of who I’ve become.