Nothing can prepare you for sadness.


I found this out the other day when I was rushing to the hospital to see my Aunt Jangee.


My mother’s sister and the reason for my middle name.  Stephanie Jan…..

I have always been told I was named after her…I have been told I am much like her and at the same nothing like her at all.


I am both.


According to stories told through the years, my sister (two years older) is the cute kid who leaned up to the front seat at age two and put her arms around my mother’s sister and instead of saying “Aunt Jan she widen her lips like only like a true Southern Lady to be could and said, “Aunt Jangeeeeeeeee.”


It was from then on she was known as such.


We dropped the “Aunt” (as we grew older) most of the time  to straight-up “Jangee”….Aunt was obvious I guess and at times just in the way.



I am sad.

So sad that I find myself visiting my younger self with her hour after hour. Day after day….I am sad.  I am sad because she died last Monday.

Some say, “passed away”.  Other’s say nothing at all.  Just “she’s gone”.


I like to think she flew away.  It’s how I picture it in my head.

Like a….



This is what I read at her funeral…..I wrote it with her the morning of…I knew I had to say something so I asked her from my heart what to say…..We came up with this:



I had a beautiful butterfly come visit me this May.  It seems to follow  me everywhere and listens to what I say-

I talked to it this morning and I asked the question Why?

The only sounds I heard were, “My dear I had to fly”

When the tears stopped their falling and the wind began to blow my breathing steadied quickly and my heart began to glow-

I turned around and looked… and that butterfly was there…

It held a gentle floating and an even more gentle stare-

I bent down as close as I could get…then looked deep into it’s eyes-That’s when I felt a sudden lift…a bit of a  shocking surprise…

After all this, after all the tears… I began to SEE….

This wasn’t just a butterfly..

It was my  Jangee.

It was hard to stand up and read it in front of all those who LOVED her.  I teared up at the end.  But I had to honor a woman that has always been my friend.  She was a woman, a mother, a sister, a daughter, an aunt and to many a best friendOver time we drifted, but as a young girl she was so instrumental to who I am today.  The sound of her life rhythm will always be deep inside.

I am sad.  Sitting in the mud of sorrow.

However I am consoled by the thought

There is no way around it.  I will be walking through this sadness for awhile.  I am taken back to my eight year old self in an  instance these days.  I feel a sudden yearning to “understand” life and it’s meaning.

I have never said “good-bye” to anyone that sat so close to my heart and had to let go so suddenly.  My grandmother had alzheimer’s and I had time.  Jangee only gave me a few days.  Only minutes at the end.

My heart is broken….my sadness is a heavy weight that I carry around like one of her tote bags now filled up with tears.

I will miss you my Jangee….I will never forget your sweet smile.

You are forever my BUTTERFLY.





Author: openlifestudio

I am a self taught photographer and mixed media artist with a degree from the North Carolina School of the Arts in classical theatre performance. Stage was my first love and brought me into the world art while photography is what made me want to stay. I am married to superman, and am the mother of three little super-ducks. I studied creative writing at the Univeristy of Tn and classical drama at the NC School of the Arts, and a Masters in Education with concentration of inclusion and curriculum. I've liived in NYC and LA for the past decade and moved back to TN for some home cooking and back yard fun . I spend most of my days getting little ones through life and playing in my studio. I sell my work through different venues and am really happy where I find myself these days. I love to drink a bottle of wine (with my hubby) coupled with extra cheddar blast goldfish! Having kids has changed my life, the arts has shaped my life, and my soulmate continues everyday to walk through my life beside me. What else could a country city girl like me need.

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