Monday, October 31, 2005

We lost my Uncle Tom on Thursday. He was only 55. He was my 'favorite' uncle. He being an artist, a musician and in his last years a gardener. He was creative, like me and so I related to him well. He was also just 15 when I was born and so I saw more of him during visits to my Grandparents than my other uncle. I just thought he was cool and funny.

We found out on Tuesday that he had been admitted to the hospital. He was in intensive care and hooked up to all sorts of ventilators, feeding tubes, etc. I spoke to the nurse who told me a lot more than perhaps she was meant to, he being an adult, and me being just a neice. But she could hear in my voice, no doubt, the grief and sadness I already felt. Its like being encased in gelatin. You feel insulated by the emotion from the rest of the world. Sometimes the outside is so blurry, and sometimes it comes into such stark focus, but its as if the volume has been turned down. You see and hear everything, they just do not impact you as normal. Then as days go by and you begin to deal with the process of what a loss means to your life and your family the layer of gelatin begins to diminish. But that sock in the gut can come at any moment and the ping in the jaw that alerts you to the iminent tears.

I have always tried to keep regret at bay in my life. Partially because I believe its mostly a wasted emotion and partly because I believe its a little self indulgent. But I do regret the times when I had an opportunity to be closer to my uncle and I didn't take advantage of them. Or didn't create them. I suppose that is normal. But a thought keeps coming back to me that I must hang on to. That its an honor to share a part of someone's life. A life is such a monumental thing. No one has any obligation to share any part of theirs with you, for afterall who are any of us anyway? But to be able to share in someone's life is special.

I have always felt grateful to people who actually want to spend some of their time on me. And this morning, as I was starting t0 forget all the poignant and important things that grief teaches, I was reminded. I stopped by Staples on my way to work and was approached by a man. He actually pursued me down the aisle. Now, you can look at it either way. I could have run scared and thought "crack pot". But then what do each of you gain? He was a vivacious and vibrant person and obviously on some sort of drug, X or shrooms or something. It would have been much simpler to panick and run away. But I made myself stay and LISTEN to him. You know, methed out or whatever he may have been, he is still a human being and has value and an important life. He chose me to share some of it with for a few minutes in a Staples in Cathedral City. It may not have lifelong impact as a family member has, but it certainly was a little hello for both of us. We walk around the world so all alone sometimes that maybe we forget a little bit that there are others and that we affect them.

It occurs to me that life is not just experienced individually but collectively. And when I start thinking, "Why did my uncle have to die so young?" I remember that without loss there can be no experience of joy in gain.

In the way of major life events, my sister's baby was born on Monday, October 24th (the day my uncle was admitted to the hospital and in effect, lost to the world) in Guatemala City, Guatemala. They were told on Thursday that he belongs to them, the same day my uncle died. We lost one man in the family and we gained another little one. Its just so like life. It made for a terrible wonderful week.


Anonymous said...

He belongs to them. What a beautiful phrase.

Congratulations on the new nephew. Condolences on your loss.


demondoll said...

It is just like, isn't it? I am so happy for your sister! And may your beloved uncle rest in peace...