The moment I heard it, I felt the familiar sting in my heart. A sudden, strong feeling that ached with the beginnings of loss. A mix of disbelief, fear and raw sadness rushed through me, resulting in an outburst of tears.
No one could have prepared us for what this year would bring. It was only months ago where we spent an afternoon at our uncle’s home, celebrating his birthday. At the beginning of the year, my husband was sharing photos of a large celebration that his uncle had organized. Who could have known that event would have the very last they would all be together?
I’m finding it incredibly difficult to write about his passing and months preceding it. It doesn’t feel right at all. There is a distinct sadness to it, a testament to current events and a stark reality to what the world is like now. We see numbers of the impact of things, but all of it is tenfold when it hits so close to home.
I felt despair in knowing that nothing is certain. We all thought this outcome was not likely. We thought that in a few months time, we would look back at this all, and lock away the experience as something terrible, but over with. I feel anger in that a life was taken too soon. I feel sympathy, pain and worry for the family that was left behind.
All those feelings are part of grieving. It feels selfish sometimes, because there are others in the family whose lives are impacted so much more than mine. The feelings are valid. It’s ok to grieve for someone who was a part of your life, no matter the proximity of their relationship to you.
An unfortunate result of my past trauma meant that I don’t have as strong as a bond with extended family as I would have expected. It’s not that I don’t want it, and it’s not that we don’t have supportive extended family members. The circumstances of our past lead to an unintentional isolation. Not negative, not malicious, just unintentional.
Coming into my husband’s family was a reminder of how close extended family can be. It was a reminder and a chance to experience support on a level that I had not experienced in some time. His uncle was a huge part of this. We were always invited to partake in events, family trips and simple celebrations. We were given sound advice when needed, support where warranted and overall kindness and love.
This dedication and generosity was often extended to family, friends and community. His face held a permanent smile, which I always thought was an accurate reflection of his general personality. In the 20 years of knowing him, I never saw or heard anything controversial or unsavory. In fact, it was always the opposite. He undoubtedly left a positive mark on those who knew him.
Today, the family will say their final goodbyes. It’s unfair, painful and difficult to accept. Life will not be the same without him. We will not be the same without him.