I never expected to be following up a blog about new additions with a post about loss. But that’s how quickly the world can change.

This past Tuesday, December 3, my aunt Donna Lee Domingo passed away unexpectedly at the age of 58.

Donna Lee Domingo, 1961-2019

I got the news Tuesday afternoon, and by early Wednesday morning, Ryan, Artie and I were in the car, making the journey down to San Diego to say goodbye.

I thought this post was going to be my long tribute to her … that by now, I’d be able to gather my thoughts and tell her story. But I still find myself struggling to find the words.

To sum up someone you knew your whole life, who was such a big personality, is a gargantuan task. I’m not sure a blog post could truly capture her spirit and the impact she had on my life. Hell, a whole novel could hardly do the trick.

Auntie Donna was someone you just had to experience. And I’m so lucky to have experienced her for 35 years.

She had had health issues for years and even some scares, but she always bounced back. We had even recently talked about going to Hawai’i for her 60th birthday. Now, all I can think about are stolen futures that will never be.

I’m devastated that she never got to meet Artie. But I’m happy that she at least got to see pictures of him and that I got to speak to her on the phone after he was born.

Right now, I’m dealing with “what ifs” and guilt.

I had thought about calling her the night before she died, as she was in the hospital (for what we thought was just another scare that would quickly be resolved). But the baby was fussy and I thought maybe Donna had probably already been inundated with calls, so I decided I would call her the next day. When I called that next day, I got her voicemail, and later that day, I would find out it was because it was too late.

Not everything in my life needs to tie back to my sabbatical or be some big life lesson. But I can’t help to think about two big messages that are coming through to me in the wake of this tragedy. The first is inspired by her life and that is to live big, fully, and honestly. And the second comes from the loss and that is to never put off the things that your gut is telling you to do.

Maybe some day I’ll be able to sit down and write my story of her. But for now, I just will say, I miss her more than words could ever convey.

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