Just over a week ago my mother's sister was taken ill very suddenly. Before we could make our way to Glasgow, she was gone. The cancer we thought a nasty memory had crept about her lungs and liver, silent and deadly. 

Death carried Màire peacefully away in his tender arms, to who knows where? All he left was her body, spent and relieved. Spared a long vicious struggle by some sort of mercy.

We made the long journey from our disparate locations and converged in the little flat that she shared with my uncle. Surrounded by her paintings and photos, little trinkets gathered from around the globe, her presence lingered like scent - catching as I swallowed over the lump in my throat.

I hadn't seen my aunt in years. Thinking that I had time, I let the spring and summer roll round year after year. We raised Finn, built our house and filled the time in between with a hundred little things. I sent Christmas cards and always thought fondly of her. 

I remembered the time that she arrived from  some airport on my birthday, bearing some purple eye shadow as a gift. I guess I was six or seven. I looked at my mum - a staunch feminist - wondering if this gift was ok? Màire laughed as she apologised for the funny gift, and yet it was so thoughtful of her! She thought of me between security and the sky, remembering that a gift - any gift - is better than turning up empty handed. 

I loved that eye shadow.

At Màire's cremation her daughter and husband spoke beautifully of her life and talents, her warm heart and eclectic tastes. I read Kalil Gibran, crumbling into messy tears in the last stanza and squeaking out the final phrase. Their strength humbled me.

I felt angry with myself for missing out on more time with her, simply by imagining that my life was already too full for a few trips to Glasgow. Regret welled up in my sore heart as I sighed through the journey back home.

After a fitful night, tired and tearful. I resolved to act differently in future. My huge, diverse and wonderful family are out there, all that is required of me is to reach out and touch them.

Thank you Màire for reminding me how precious life is. I wish you a safe journey wherever you're headed and know that they'll be glad to see you when you get there.

Naomi x x x