My uncle passed away in the wee hours of the morning Saturday morning, the 14th. My aunt is a retired nurse, so she knew there was no hope. I treasure her practical no-nonsense ways. But the thing is, I still can’t wrap my mind around this whole crazy thing. The fluke event, the domino effect, how one thing led to another that normally wouldn’t have happened, but it did that day. How an ordinary orbit around the sun started so ordinarily, and an ordinary decision to follow his ordinary routine in his ordinary day ended his life. How he did nothing wrong, but everything somehow went wrong.
I’ve looked through all the pictures that I’ve taken when we’ve visited each other and it is just so surreal to me that the images and voices that I captured of us all together, of William singing him happy birthday in 2015, the park bench he sat on at a park in 2016, the tree he sat under for shade after our walk over the Bob Kerrey bridge, of him laughing at William’s energy running across a giant field, of him grumbling to camouflage his secret joy that he would have to “sacrifice” his diet and help Tony eat that big bag of popcorn he just bought while they watched TV together in the downstairs family room, of his antics when he was frustrated with his beloved Huskers football team and his passionate joy when they were doing well, how reliable he was to take his great-grandson to school every Tuesday and Thursday, or when his great-grandson steals his seat (his La-Z-Boy, no less) in the family room and he would let him, how he would save me a cup of coffee out of their giant carafe in the mornings when I was visiting, how he would make a giant pot of beef stew for the first night’s dinner when we arrived after our day of traveling because he knew it was my favorite, and all the numerous other facets of his very normal life… all those memories, those are the only ones we’ll ever have with him, and no new ones are to be made. At least not here on earth.
I know that the end of life for each person is death, with no exceptions. It’s no surprise. I’ve read Ecclesiastes. I also know I’m at this strange age in my life when death starts taking the lives of those I know and love, and that it will continue that way. But sudden death is always such a strange thing to process. I’m not sure I can get used to this being my new norm.
My uncle’s funeral is this week, on Thursday, but rather than go back for it, I booked tickets to fly us back to see my aunt early February instead. My heart is telling me that I need to see her, that perhaps she’ll need to see me, too. And I know she takes joy in William, so going in February will allow me to bring William and Tony, too, instead of just me because of airfare costs.
I’m praying for my aunt and their son, and the rest of the “surviving” family members and friends, as we all find our new “normal” while missing him. If you have prayers or thoughts to offer, they would be appreciated.