Thursday, July 14, 2016

Made it Real

Damn.  I went and said it.

My uncle died July 12th.  Now I've written it and somehow it makes it more real.  It's never easy and I know the ache my cousins are holding.  It's sharp and dull at the same time.  It's real but it feels unreal.  It wasn't unexpected but it always is.

We will gather, pray, sing, eat, tell stories and laugh louder than perhaps we want, because we want to hold onto more than the humor, we want to steep in the memories we didn't know we collected over decades of time.

The only comfort I know in times of facing death, is the presence of others.  Each note on Facebook, each letter I received when my dad died, each condolence made the loss softer.  I remember everyone I saw at the Rosary.  I remember being overwhelmed by how many loved Dad, by how many came to the funeral.  I wish I'd had the mass videotaped so I could fully take in everyone who came.    They did more than they know.  It is such a sacred act, to comfort the mourning, to be present for those who grieve.   So to all who came then, thank you.

I hope Uncle Pat's funeral is brimming with people.

Brimming.  That's how I remember him; brimming with laughter, brimming with song, brimming with story, holding a beer that was also brimming with foam.  He brimmed with love for his children.  He brimmed with love for his whole family.  

I remember hearing the story about you and my dad and Uncle Tommy sharing a room.  Granddaddy apparently came up and declared the talking fest of your bedroom to be over. "I don't want to hear another peep out of this room!" he growled.   We all knew what happened next.  You said, "Peep!....Peep! Peep! Peep! Peep! Peep!" and your brothers followed suit.  It broke the tension, all the peeps cascading.

I also remember your eyes sparkling with delight as you handed Marc and me a bottle of Don Perignon at our rehearsal dinner.  We drank it at New Year's that first year.  I also have many memories of you at the beach, getting slightly annoyed with me for my umpteenth backlash.

The last time we got to visit, it was short.  I was at Aunt Mary Lou's funeral, and rode down with you in the elevator.  I wish I could remember the conversation.  I felt blunted then by your sister's death, so close upon my dad's.  I think you did too.   There weren't the funny stories because at that moment, we just both felt sad.  We both got extra desserts.  We both shouldn't have, but we both wanted life at that moment to somehow be sweeter, to taste better.

The photo for the obituary is how I remember Uncle Pat.  That's his true face.  Eyes laughing, easy smile, someone willing to sing or tell a story, whatever it took to help whoever was sitting with him, enjoy the moment.

Uncle Pat, I love you.

Your laughter, like salt, made whatever was happening in life, taste better.
It was never what you said that I remembered, but how I felt whenever I'd visited or watched you with other people. Your conversations were always, always, always punctuated by your laughter and that's what I remember the most, what I'll miss most.

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