I'm actually posting this here on April 14, 2023, it took me a long time to muster the energy to put this here.
June 30, 2022 was the day I lost my aunt Stella de Mello, one of the best people I've ever met in my life. It was a difficult time for me given she was a huge part of my life when I was growing up.
This is the Facebook post I wrote that day:
My beautiful aunt Stella, one of the most wonderful people in my life, and the lives of many other people, has died. She was extremely important in raising me, but also a person who has touched the lives of so many other people that it's impossible to even know exactly how many. I clearly wouldn't be who I am today without her in my life.
A great ballerina, who always cared about the importance of art and culture, especially dance, both in my home town and the entire country of Brazil. She always advocated for art and how it can help people in any situation.
In her personal life, despite fighting with depression for most of her life, like a lot of us do, she loved a good laugh, to keep things silly and she also had unconditional love for her family and friends. Everyone who knew her felt right at home.
Her death will leave a hole that can never be filled, but I feel privileged to have had this Woman in my life, who despite all of her personal problems, never gave up, never stopped fighting for what is right and, more importantly, never stopped loving.
Like I said before, I've never met someone with so much love to give in my life, her love towards her family and friends was unconditional.
She wasn't perfect, sure, no one is, she struggled with her mental health for decades and she had many issues in her life and of course she had moments of failure like anyone else, but I'd rather not focus on that because that's irrelevant now that she's gone, the only thing that matters is the good memories I have of her.
One funny story was this time I was hanging out with some of my cousin's friends (not her son) and they went into a room to smoke pot. I wasn't interested in trying at that time but I followed them into the room so I wasn't alone outside. I was 15(ish) and at that point I had never been around anyone smoking pot (or so I thought).
When I started smelling it I was like "this smell is familiar… wait… This is my aunt Stella's house smell!!".
Okay, maybe not all the time, but it was a familiar smell nevertheless. And it was never a secret but I had never realized she smoked marijuana until that point. And she did it a lot because it really helped with her severe depression.
That's one of the reasons I'm in favor of legalizing it, because I've seen firsthand how it can help people, aside from the fact that you should be able to do whatever you want with your body, but let's not go into that tangent right now.
There was a period of my life around 2009 that was super difficult at home, I won't go into it but Stella's dance studio was the place I would go to be away from home. I spent a lot of time with her then, she was a super silly person so we were always chatting, making faces, telling jokes, making funny voices and play card games with my other aunt Lucky.
I remember this day around that time she surprised me with an acoustic guitar. She knew I loved music and she bought it despite her difficult financial situation that she had been for many years.
She also gave me my first bike when I was a kid, I remember that like it was yesterday.
When I was a kid we used to live with my grandparents, and we often had some of my aunts living with us as well, like my aunt Kitty who we lived with for long periods of time. But for a time my aunt stella lived with us as well and I remember watching Dinosaurs (1995) on tv in her bedroom.
I remember going through her stuff and seeing these crystals, she really liked them so she would show me what they were and explain them to me. I was a kid so I don't remember the specifics, but I do remember being there with her.
When the writing was on the wall and it was clear she was probably not gonna make it, she sent me a voice message on Whatsapp that was super heart breaking, but basically she told me to keep being who I am and that she was proud of me and that she loved me. There was more than that but that's for myself.
I live in Australia, so going to visit the family in Brazil is super hard, and I was kinda avoiding going based on the thought that she was okay with that despite my fiancée, Joey telling me I should go. And I'm sure she was okay, she'd never want me to do such a trip just to say goodbye in person. But was I okay with it?
Then I decided to book tickets very last minute so I could see her one last time.
And I'm glad I did, despite the fact that that one day that I got to go into the hospital room she wasn't super lucid. But she was enough to remember one of our inside jokes.
It was a bit shocking seeing her in that state in the hospital bed, but I stayed there for a while with her holding her hand.
I'll never forget when I was leaving looking back inside and sending her kisses and her smiling back at me sending them back.
I had some conversations with my parents about her life and her difficulties, so towards the end of the visit I asked her if she felt fulfilled with her life: She answered yes which made me feel happy.
Then I asked what was she most proud of and she said "My nieces, nephews and my son".
Who is someone I should mention, my cousin Hugo, her son who she adopted when he was 8 from a whim of her ex-husband and ended up having to raise him by herself.
He grew up to be one amazing man, super empathetic and loving. Blood does not matter, really. I'm closer to him than I am with some of my other blood cousins.
Stella, the void you leave in my life is so big I can't imagine how I could fill it again. You can be sure that you rippled through mine, other people's and your love, lessons and humor will keep rippling through generations to come.
Not being able to hear your laugh and your sillyness anymore is heartbreaking.
I live so far now that it's a bit surreal not having that person that was always there, a huge point of reference, gone.
I dream that you are still alive or that you came back very often, almost daily. And I'll hold on to those dreams.
And when it's my turn to go, you can be sure that you'll still be an influence to other people through me and also through others who had you in their lives.
Thank you for having been part of my life, I could never repay just the fact that you existed.