Hello Again

Hello there, everyone. I'm starting to crawl back slowly towards some form of normalcy. I won't lie, the past few days have been extremely difficult for me. To recap, Thursday G and I went to the hospital, where quite a bit of my family had gathered, and we stayed while they took my Uncle H off oxygen. We all just gathered together and tried to share good memories and support each other. I've never been a very physical person and always felt awkward giving hugs and especially admitting I need them, but I must be growing in that regard because I felt a lot more comfortable with it this time. I kept mostly composed, though I admit the sight of my Aunt G sitting my my Uncle's bedside, just talking to him, brought me close to a breakdown. I had such a hard time reconciling that image of a couple married 42 years saying their final goodbyes to my previous mental perception of them, always active in my life, vital and happy. It seems like such a short time ago.

Another cousin of mine actually works in the same hospital, and she was able to take a break to come see us. She is from my mom's side of the family, but she still spent plenty of time with Uncle H when we were children as well. She was one of my first and best friends. I haven't seen her for probably three years, though we keep making plans to. Why is this the only sort of event that can compel us, motivate us, to make that first step towards reconnection? What are we waiting for?

He was able to breathe on his own for a couple hours, but died that afternoon. As I've said before, I've always somehow avoided actually being there when someone in my life passed, and I technically did this time as well. My dad, G, and I had gone to the cafeteria for a snack when my cousin S (his daughter) came down and told us he was gone. I couldn't bring myself to go back in the hospital room afterwards. Everything else had been hard enough, I couldn't be there in the immediate aftermath when everything was still so raw.

There was a viewing on Monday, and S had created an awesome photo slide show of scenes from Uncle H's life for everyone to watch. I had posted some old pictures I found on Facebook and she was able to use those as well. She had them set to music, and of course one of them had to be the Annie Lennox song from Lord of the Rings, "Into the West", which has always made me cry even when it had no sad associations. That song just gets me, every time, so I choked up a little there. I don't like actually going up to the casket, I never have, so I stayed towards the back.

The next morning we had the actual funeral service, and cousin S gave an absolutely amazing speech. I couldn't believe she spoke so eloquently and beautifully and kept herself mostly together. She shared messages to many family members that she thought Uncle H would have wanted to share with them, and that was such a comfort. She told my dad that he brought out the kid in my uncle, they weren't afraid to be silly. My uncle was a quiet, patient, unassuming man. I can't remember him ever getting angry. But with my dad, they were more like mischievous little kids. On Fourth of July cookouts they would hole up in the garage and, hunched over their huge pile of fireworks, combine them into more explosive and exciting combinations like mad scientists.There was that one time when they set the neighbor's yard on fire...

It was just a little fire.

And the time when I was in the third grade and they filled a box of those little snap-n-pop crackers with huge, disgusting june bugs, and handed it to me. I opened it so innocently, and was then scarred for life when all those june bugs started crawling out. It was pretty funny though.

My uncle was the kind of man who, when we would go on vacations together, would put quarters in the change receptacles of pay phones at rest stops, because he knew I would invariably check them. For so long I just thought I was really lucky!

He was someone we could always hear coming, because he had a habit of jangling the change in his pants pocket. My dad does this too sometimes, and it makes me smile.

Anyway, cousin S gave her speech, and showed the slide show, with people making comments or saying where it had been taken, who was with him, etc. I had never been to a funeral that did this, and I thought it was a really wonderful, celebratory idea. We then went to the cemetery, visited the other family plots, then went back to a relatives church where they had made us a lunch. I spent more time with my family during these few days than I have in years, so despite the sadness, he helped bring us together again, in his gentle, selfless way.

I also wanted to thank those who left me such kind messages and who have been thinking of me. For several days I couldn't even look at those comments because they just made me cry all over again. But truly, thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Though we've never met, your empathy, and this outlet, have helped me immensely. I think maybe my co-workers haven't quite understood why I seem to be taking this death so hard. I haven't felt like talking or justifying my grief to them, explaining over and over that he wasn't "just" my uncle, but my godfather, more of a grandfather really, someone who was always active in my life in a way that my other aunts and uncles, though I love them, really weren't. But all of you shared your support with no questions, no expectations. For that, I thank you.

Rest in Peace, Uncle H.

Blowing bubbles on Lake Erie :)

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  1. This post teared me up! I'm so sorry for your loss. Your uncle sounds like he was such a wonderful man. I bet it was beautiful to see that slideshow with Into The West. It is such a beautiful song, though bittersweet. Remember in Lord of the Rings, during the final battle, Pippen told Gandalf his fears; to which Gandalf replied, "Death is just another path- one that we all must take." Then he explains the grey havens and the instrumental of Into The West plays in the background? That was beautiful and comforting.

    I enjoyed reading your memories about your uncle. I know our loved ones would truly want us to remember those fun, happy, and beautiful memories. Those memories live in our hearts forever; so in fact, our loved ones never truly leave us. I'm sorry your coworkers aren't more understanding. Perhaps maybe they will someday. Until then, you have plenty of people (including me) that are here to support you!

    1. I remember that scene well, and especially the final one where Frodo leaves for the undying lands. Ah, waterworks again! But thank you for reminding me, I needed that.

      I'm feeling a little better, but little things will continue to get to me. I decided to write a condolence card to my aunt, and also thank her for all the years they were so involved in my life, and to thank them both for having been such good friends to my parents. Then I was addressing the card and realized for the first time ever, after many years of writing thank you and holiday cards, I was only writing her name. Little realizations like that are going to be jarring, but the wound will heal.

      Thank you again for your thoughtful words, you are an absolute treasure :)


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