Losing someone close to you is a sobering experience. It snaps us awake, shakes us, and reminds us how fleeting time is and how quickly it all passes before the eyes. Poof! And it’s gone—their gone. No time for goodbyes, or closure, and never enough answers to explain ‘Why?’ Too soon, too young—we want more of that time, “to have been ‘there’,” or to have been a better lover, friend, father, brother or sister, niece or nephew.
One day they are emailing you, telling you how proud they are of you. That they've read everything you have written. How beautiful you have become. “Just like your mother,” they say. The next day, the words: “He’s dead.”
“What?” you say.
“What?” you say, again and again. Because the words don’t feel real. They can’t be. He just got a puppy. He just started a business. He seemed to be on the upswing—healthier, happier.
And as much as I try to hold it together for my family, as each of us falls into our roles of support for one and another. Cleaning up and clearing out someone’s life is surreal. You think you know who a person is, but their world keeps unfolding and unfolding—paper and photos and collections and odds & ends that mean nothing to us, but had to have meant something to them.
Hands are held, tears are shed. We are like fallen and tattered trees holding each other up, when everything around us feels eerie and bleak. This time is for silence. To have quiet for our thoughts and the ways we want to remember him.
What I do know, is that he knew how to love fully with his whole heart. His relationship with his lifelong partner of 30 plus years, speaks volumes. High school friends, sweethearts.
If I could tell him anything, I would say: “No, Uncle Jim. You’re the beautiful one.”