I’ve written this post over and over in my head, but I’ve never been able to put it down into actual words to where it makes sense. Every time I sit down to write, I draw a blank, lost in a thick layer of hazy fog. You see, death is such shaky subject and it can’t be justified with any amount of words. Everyone has their own opinion on the subject- some say, it’s best to keep it inside, privately in your own heart; others say it helps to talk about it, to let it out. But to tell you the truth, I’m not entirely sure which one is best. However, I do know this—I want to talk optimistically about my loved ones and keep a positive outlook on the future. I don’t want to talk about the hurt and the emptiness and the pain that my family feels losing such a significant family member. No amount of beautifully written quotes, elegantly worded paragraphs, or bible verses can justify what my cousins, Kelly and Ashley, are going through after losing both of their parents.
My aunt passed away from breast cancer two years ago. I’ve held that inside of me—never released my emotions, never went through the grieving process, and never accepted the fact that she’s gone. Now two years later, my uncle passed away due to heart complications. I can’t seem to wrap my head around it. No one imagines these things to happen, and surely no one prepares. In my mind they’re still living in the lake house, going about their everyday life.
I’m not the type that easily shows emotion. I’m very awkward when someone needs comforting-- I’m not sure why that is, because my family is a big group of huggers and embracers, whereas I’m more of an observer. I like to process my surroundings and digest my feelings in the background before I can appropriately react to a situation, which is usually privately done in tears.
With recent news that my grandma’s health (she lives in a nursing home and has been diagnosed with Parkinson's) has taken a turn for the worse, all of these emotions that I haven’t fully dealt with are coming to the surface. I have to accept the fact that my aunt and uncle are no longer with us, and I have to prepare myself that Nana may not be with us much longer. But, like I said earlier, I want to do this in the positive way as much possible because their lives were so beautiful and full of so much love. I want to remember all of the life lessons that they have taught me, the memories that were made, stories that were shared at gatherings…stories are huge in my family. We could talk your ear off around the dinner table and keep you up until the late hours of the night with stories of fishing trips, guess-who-I-ran-into, and back-in-the-day—mainly told through Nana and Jerry because Nana has piles and piles of memories to tell, and Jerry is so energetic and enthusiastic and can keep a conversation going for hours (Jerry was in theater, so he really knows how to tell a good story). And we laugh. We always laugh because when we’re all together, it’s nothing short of a good time.
With the unexpected news of my uncle’s passing, we loaded up the car, boarded Louie at the vet, and traveled 1,095 miles to be with family. It was a weekend that was equal parts mourning and comforting. We celebrated Greg’s life, and continued on in storytelling –because it’s what we do best- with stories of his life, happy memories, funny moments, jokes he would tell. It’s comforting and such a blessing to be able to look back on all the life that was created, and smile. Greg lived full life, to its fullest capacity. He was a comedian in his own right, always laughing, always telling a joke, but most of all, always had you laughing until your sides hurt. He truly loved life, and was loved by everyone.
And so we all came together to honor him, his memory, and the footprint that he has left of all of our hearts.
My hair and clothes continuously smelt of burnt cedar and earth—best smell ever. It’s delicious.
I hated that we all united under such circumstances, but it warms me to no end to see my family, especially since living halfway across the country makes traveling extremely difficult. I have a tight knit family. We get together for all holidays, weekend get-togethers, NC State football games, and regular beach visits, but now our visits are few and far in between. I suppose it’s the one grand flaw of being married to the military—distance.
But getting back together –the reunion- is oh so sweet. We picked up right where we left off, never skipping a beat.
Saying good-bye to my uncle was so hard for us to do.
“That was the thing. You never got used to it, the idea of someone being gone. Just when you think it's reconciled, accepted, someone points it out to you, and it just hits you all over again, that shocking.”
- Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever
I'm at peace knowing that he's in heaven with my Aunt Deb, his one true love, pa, Aunt Mildred, and everyone else that we've lost the last couple of years. I can't wait to see them all again. I can hear his enthusiastic voice now saying, "Hey Emmie!!!".