grief a year later

How is grief a year later? What does it resemble? What form does it take? What does it consume or perhaps what does it create? To lose something or someone is to lose space you once held for what mattered to you, today I will tell you how much that space has healed in the span of a year...

I have made a series of depressing blog posts, rightfully so, about losing my uncle to Stage 4 cancer last year. This cut deep. Deeper than my depression or anything else. I have never felt more invisible, hopeless, tired and confused in my life. I was literally watching my life happen! I would show up at point B without much recollection of how I got there. My day was choppy, my thoughts were scattered and all I could think about this time last year was if I was going to come home and my uncle would already be dead on his hospital bed in the dining room.

And one Friday before Thanksgiving weekend, it happened...

He was hypertensive for hours before passing at 9pm. And I think part of me knew that today was the day because I couldn’t stop crying. I cried on the bus in front of strangers, on a park bench and to my best friend before asking her to accompany me home. Something in my bones knew something wasn’t right. And intuition doesn’t lie! I kept going back and forth from, “at least he isn’t in any pain anymore” to “f*ck cancer and the Universe” and that’s still the case sometimes. Why? Because yeah shit happens in life but we had almost no time. A month, one f*cking month exactly between finding out his prognosis and putting him in the ground!!

I’m grateful for having been there for him when he needed my parents to lean on but I’m always heartbroken for my parents to have had to see their friend wither away and pretend (for our sake) that he wasn’t. It’s always a back and forth. Two steps forward and a step back. Sometimes I picture him pulling up in the driveway with his coffee in hand and a baseball cap that he would always forget, without fail, above the fireplace. He’s either here to give the boys a haircut after working 12 hours, or after church for dinner or for a bbq because its summer or no reason at all because he’s family.

Upon speaking with my therapist we realized that this grief isn’t only heavy because it was someone I cared deeply about, someone I believed would walk my down the aisle if my father wasn’t able to; he is also my first major loss. I’m wrapping my head around death itself. What it means to love and lose, to grieve, let go and move on.

Where do we go? What if there is nothing else afterwards? What if it’s just black...silent?

I have a million questions that pertain to him specifically and others about my existential being. I am trying to figure out where I stand now that major chips that make up my life have been shifted and misplaced. Am I next?

I’m trying to replace my memories of him when he was sick with him being able bodied, independent and reliable. The man that would always help us move, would drive everyone home in his truck and was true. He never flattered his ego, talked a big game, he would mind his business and do good along the way. He was my second father.

His memorial was a reminder to think about the good things and to not follow it up with cursing the universe for taking him. I saw a lot of bad, blood and pain and a lot that my uncle probably didn’t want us to see. But I also saw a lot of good come from knowing him. I am crying while I write this and I tell you this not because I particurlarly feel comfortable, but because I wanted to give you a permission slip. I remember feeling so guilty at the close casket wake for crying outside. I felt guilty that my 12 year brother at the time had to see me like that and comfort me. Which is ridiculous but I guess I too need a permission slip from time to time to be able to process everything.

When we love, we open up ourselves to hurt. If my uncle was like any other uncle I grew up I would probably not be bothered as much but he wasn’t. He was good. And to lose that is to lose apart of myself. We are now forced to find a way to live with a hole inside of us, to work around it. We will always hold a place for him, and we do have a mini shrine of where his bed used to be but also in our hearts, our sundays, our barbecues. We will fill this place up with each other, truth, gratitude, his grandchildren (extended family) and most importantly vulnerability. Being more open and vulnerable to love, to listen, to feel and to continue to hold space for the things that matter most to us in this life.

hold on to hope my love,
rest in heavenly peace to a strong pillar in my life,