He was a beautiful little kid. Sweet. Happy. Full of life and all boy. Then a disease sunk its claws into him, claiming him so quickly that we could hardly take it in.
One night in the hospital, while his mom (my sister) was off grabbing a quick bite to eat, Charlie decided that Christmas carols were in order. It wasn't an issue to him that Christmas was still a month away. What was the point of having an adoring aunt around if he couldn't command her to sing what he wanted to hear?
So sing she did.
I can't recall why—but for some reason, we sat on the floor. Yes, indeed, the cold, hard floor. I scooped him out of the bed—tubes and wires and all—carried him across the room, and slid down the wall until we were in a nice, cozy huddle in the corner. Charlie would call out a song title, and off I'd go. Santa Claus was definitely coming to our town. We were going to deck some halls. And Jesus, our brother, was kind and good.
Then Charlie got down to business. His favorite. Joy to the World.
I sang it, all four verses.
I sang it again, three verses the second time around.
The last one.
Okay then. I sang the last verse.
He nodded and yawned. We grew silent. Thinking that he had dozed off, I began to shift, preparing to stand.
You sure are pretty, Aunt Beth.
I settled back down. He and I weren't going anywhere. We were going to stay in our nice, cozy huddle until someone pried him from my arms.
They were the final words he ever said to me.
I learned two lessons that night from Charlie. First, statements don't have to be complex to be profound. Perhaps true eloquence can only be wrapped in simplicity.
The second lesson is harder to achieve, but I'll never stop trying. Let people know how you feel about them. Close every conversation with love-ly words. Please.
11 July 1997 - 30 November 2001