on tuesday night, i can tell you almost exactly when our worlds changed. there was a funny text from my sister at 8:30 something in reference to my little brothers and a picture my stepmom had taken of them at a hooters restaurant. then there was a text message from my dad saying “i have some bad news, can you call me?”
that kind of text message elicits a swear word, and a sinking in your belly, and your mind reels with the options of things that may have happened, and ranking the likelihood of each event. you almost don’t want to call, because then you will actually know what has caused the world to fall off it’s axis.
my uncle was driving home from work on tuesday night, and came off the freeway towards a hospital on an exit, maybe because he knew something was happening. he hit a bus stop on his front bumper. people were on the scene immediately, and about an hour of CPR was performed. my aunt and cousin drove in and were taken to the quiet room at the hospital in san leandro.
my sisters and mom and i came to the house at about 9:30 that night, and my other cousin was here by himself. my aunt and cousin finally drove home through detours and the rain and we were together. we ate pizza, made homemade frosting, and shot-gunned Coors Lite that my uncle loved to drink so much. we cried, we held each other, we talked about the funny things uncle jim used to do.
we thought about his short running shorts, his old grey truck, his sweater vests, his love of the Huskies, how he snored, how he laughed so loud, how he fell asleep sitting up at family functions, how he yelled at the tv.
there are so many decisions to be made in the wake of someone’s death. you don’t realize this until you go through it. but to sit with someone’s children and help them pick up an urn for their father…
what color, what size, what font, what to say, where to spread ashes.
we have notified his friends, called his secretary, written the obituary, made funeral arrangements, retrieved the cars and personal affects, put away his last load of laundry.
and going through all these things, i have learned so much more about the man that uncle jim was. but for me, i will always remember his muscle tees, his smile that happened half a mouth at a time, how loud he was, him cuddling with cats, his sweater vests, pitching at the summer camp games, playing computer games with me, and always being able to laugh at himself.
so we wake up in the morning, we breathe in and we breathe out, we get through the day and wait for it to feel better. we’ll have the service on wednesday.
we have been reminded to love each other out loud. how important family is, and how much they mean to us.
just a moment, and it all can change. we cant live like each moment is that moment, but we can live knowing it’s there, and love more fiercely in that knowledge.