I opened the box and took out the gleaming gold bracelet. "For me?" I could barely talk. "Yes, of course," said my Aunt Estelle. I really shouldn't have been surprised because she was like that, unexpected and golden.
When I was younger, I knew that I could always go to my Aunt Estelle for comfort, advice and support. She was my best friend and my guardian angel. I could always be honest with her and confide in her about anything that was on my mind. She also knew when I was trying to hide something. Aunt Estelle gave me advice when it was sought and guided me through many difficulties.
Last December, I was confronted with one of the most difficult choices I ever had to make in my life. Naturally, I sought Aunt Estelle's advice but for the first time I didn't like her response. She was dying of cancer and I was scheduled to go to Israel for two weeks with a group from my synagogue. Aunt Estelle was the most unselfish person I ever knew and would not even consider my hesitation about going. When I went to the hospital to visit her for what turned out to be the last time, she was waiting for me with a book about Israel on her bed and made it very clear that she expected me to go - that it was her greatest wish for me to go - how could I refuse her. Aunt Estelle called me before I left to tell me that she loved me and that she would always be with me.
I went to Israel and had the time of my life. When I returned, my parents picked me up. I told them I couldn't wait to tell Aunt Estelle about my journey. They became silent and I knew before they said the words that she had died. Aunt Estelle's unselfishness was her greatest gift.
The gold bracelet she gave me for my sixteenth birthday was an exact replica of one that I had always admired on her. Each time I look at it I am reminded of an even greater gift from my aunt, the gift of her love.
Whenever I find myself becoming too self-centered and overlooking the needs of those around me, I recall her selflessness and attempt to emulate her ability to make the needs of others a priority. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.