I met my Aunt Joyce in the late 70’s, when she and Uncle Russell were visiting my grandparents’ Concord, Massachusetts home. They had been living in California, with her two sons from a previous marriage. I don’t remember a great deal from that meeting, only that she was very beautiful and loving.
Eventually she and my uncle moved back East, raising their family in Milford, New Hampshire. They had a third son together and lived in a big house in the woods. Their home became the meeting place for the Monbleau clan every Thanksgiving and Christmas, after my grandparents retired to Jacksonville, Florida.
When I think of my aunt I remember that she was always immaculately dressed. Her hair was always perfect. Her nails were manicured weekly. She wore make-up and jewelry and fashionable clothes. Eventually she would get a modest breast enlargement, which was most noticeable when you’d embrace in an oddly firm hug. The sum of all these accouterments was a very glamorous beauty that was noticeably sophisticated for small town Milford.
Aunt Joyce also stood out as being a very successful and driven businesswoman. I never really knew what she did, only that she was very good at it and was essential to the company she worked for. I knew she was in Sales and had a company car. I knew she worked long hours, had a cleaning lady and hated to cook.
Joyce had a twin sister named, Jean. They were the eldest sisters of 4 children, to parents Dave and Beverly Gibson. They had a sister named Judi and a brother named Steve, who were noticeably years younger than the twins. I met Jean and Judi when I was in my 30’s and they had come with Aunt Joyce and Uncle Russell to Boston for the day. Playing guide, I took the sisters on a duck tour and we visited the South End. I had always heard about how close they all were, especially the twins, but it was really fun to see their bond for myself. Joyce and Jean just laughed and basked in each other’s attention, the way that soul mates gaze upon their love.
We all knew that when Aunt Joyce retired she wanted to move to Arizona to be close to Jean. That was the plan, regardless of what Uncle Russell may have had in mind. But life has a way of complicating the plans we lay out for ourselves.
Some time around 2007 Uncle Russell was diagnosed with cancer. That was the year that my grandparents were moved to spend their final days with my aunt and uncle. We spent a lot of time together, during the last year of my grandparents’ lives; which meant we spent a lot of time with Russ and Joyce.
My aunt and uncle were uncharacteristically affectionate with one another. I also noticed that my uncle’s skin looked grey. They both behaved like everything was normal and focused on taking care of Nana and Buppa, but I suspected Uncle Russell had cancer. Eventually they would ask me to take care of my grandparents overnight, because my uncle needed to go to hospital in Boston. Soon after they told the family that my uncle had cancer and the prognosis was grim.
During the next two years both of my grandparents died, Buppa on February 22, 2008 and Nana on December 25, 2008. My aunt began to drink and the rekindled affection she and my uncle had found was now replaced by anger, sadness and fear. On September 19, 2010, ten minutes after my son was born, my uncle passed away.
Having cared for and having lost three loved ones, Aunt Joyce’s health was worn down. She made the decision to pack up her New Hampshire home and finally join her twin in Arizona. The timing coincided with Jean’s son having been shot and left a paraplegic. The stress of this, compounded by Jean’s own poor health, took its toll. Jean passed away less than a year after the sisters realized their decades long dream of being reunited.
I wish I could say that my aunt had a happy, full life in her new home, but she didn’t. Our family struggled, her youngest most of all. Rusty self medicated with drugs and became a dealer. In 2014 he was arrested and sentenced for 2 to 5 years.
Less than two months ago my mom phoned me to tell me that Aunt Joyce had been diagnosed with lung cancer. This came as no surprise, as my aunt had a serious dependency on cigarettes the entire time I have known her. She also dealt with throat and lung issues most of her life. Having received word of the condition I had long expected, I had the bleak feeling that my aunt would pass by the end of the year.
A week after hearing the news, I awoke from a nap and felt compelled to write a letter to my cousin Rusty. I meditated and channeled my uncle’s spirit because I felt very strongly that he had something to say to his son. The message was very loving and personal. It held one request, to comfort my aunt. Uncle Russell urged Rusty to relieve my aunt’s soul from the worry and the guilt she had over his imprisonment.
I sent the letter to my mom, who pointed out that it was not my place to tell Rusty that Aunt Joyce had lung cancer. Since Rusty had been sentenced, his greatest fear was that he would not see his mom before she died. We were all worried about how he would take the news that prove his fear a very real possibility. So I held on to the letter.
I also wrote to my aunt. The letter I sent expressed my love for her. It acknowledged how unfair life had been over the last 5 or so years. It assured her that I would remain a loving support of Rusty. In many ways, the letter was my goodbye to her.
My aunt was a very proud woman. She always down played her health issues and would say she was fine. So when my mom called to tell me that Aunt Joyce was in the hospital, and relayed the sad details of the state she was found in, I knew my beautiful aunt was suffering.
I eventually sent the letter to Rusty and in October I flew home to the states and was able to spend 6 hours with my cousin. During this time we talked about the letter, his subsequent conversations with my aunt and how he planned on handling a life without her. Rusty talked about the last year that Uncle Russell was alive and how angry his mom had become. He also talked about wanting to take care of her but knowing that they were not always emotionally good for one another.
During this afternoon, Rusty and I meditated together. In doing so, I saw an image of him and his mother, in which they appeared like twins. Their bond was undeniable, but there were some bleak energy surrounding their love. I focused on removing the negative cords around them and saw Aunt Joyce and Rusty, reconnect as a loving mother and son.
A few days ago I was woken up throughout the night by the thought, “Aunt Joyce needs your help.” In the early morning I meditated and I saw my aunt emaciated, with unkempt hair and broken nails. She looked weak and as though she was sleeping.
I was unsure about what I was seeing, so I summoned my spirit guides to help me. An angel, whom I call Jeremy, appeared in a beautiful garden. As I looked around I saw Hermia, the healer, begin to bath my aunt in golden light. She was transformed into a peaceful sleeping beauty, as Hermia wrapped Joyce in a white robe. The next moment Jeremy leaned over, picked up my aunt like one would a sleeping baby, and flew her up into the sky.
All day Monday I waited for news about my aunt. It didn’t feel as through she had died, but that death was imminent. When word didn’t come, I reached out to my cousin, Ronnie, who said that Aunt Joyce was doing very well. She had moved to Detroit to live with my cousin Gregg and his family. Gregg had helped her stop drinking, was working on getting her to smoke electronic cigarettes and had set her up with a treatment plan for the cancer. I was confused by my visions, but overjoyed by the news.
As the week wore on I tried to make sense of what my meditation meant. I felt as through my aunt had received some divine healing and that a burden was lifted, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that her time on the earth plane was coming to an end.
Yesterday, Thursday November 13, 2014, I received a message to call Ronnie. Aunt Joyce had suffered a heart attack and had passed away. As I heard the news, I quietly thanked Spirit for ending her suffering.
In the hours that have passed, as I’ve reflected fondly on my time with my aunt, I am struck by one thing. I have not shed a tear. My heart feels heavy, I have compassion for the loss our family has suffered, but I am not sad.
When I closed my eyes shortly after hearing the news, I saw my beautiful aunt smiling at me. She laughed and said she was at peace. She asked me to tell her sons that she was with, “Dad and Jean.” She also asked me to send healing to her sons and grandchildren; and I complied.
Aunt Joyce’s death is the first loss I have experienced as a newly self-proclaimed Spiritualist. The reason why I have not shed any tears is because I know that her body and soul are finally at peace. I know that her happiness has been restored and that her spirit lives on.
Rest in peace, my beloved and beautiful Aunt Joyce. I will see you in my dreams and will share whatever messages you bring me.