For the past few weeks my uncle has been in the hospital. He's sick. Very sick. Infection is all throughout his body and he's not getting better. He's been confined to a wheelchair for the past 20-some-odd years. He's had a pretty full life all considering. But it's his time to go, I guess. And this morning they will remove the ventilator and he will hopefully pass on.
I talked to Dad yesterday morning. It was emotional and migraine-inducing. My uncle is a good man. A great man. And as he laid in his hospital bed, my dad, his sister and my cousins went and had lunch in the hospital cafeteria. There they discussed funeral plans.
Dad told me if there was anything I wanted to tell Uncle Roy I could write him a letter and they'd read it. In many ways, it's unfair to have time to sit and write down your thoughts and have someone else read it. There was so much more I was able to say because I wasn't saying it. The truth is, my uncle is an amazing person. I know we all think that about family members. And there's truth in all of us being wonderful. My Uncle Roy is amazing. Amazing. I'll include the letter I wrote because I want to have that forever. It explains a little bit why I think he's so great. But it doesn't explain it all.
I'm tired. I'm so tired. I wish I were there. Last night I was completely emotionally spent. I had such a busy day that got thrown out the window. All of a sudden not much that's sitting there on your calendar matters when you're talking about losing someone. I was supposed to go up to Mountain View to see some friends who I've recently met. I've met them once. I call them my friends. We don't hang out weekly, but I love them. I sent them a message telling them I may not make it and explained what was going on. They didn't say, "Oh I get it. Just stay home and sleep." Instead, they encouraged me to come and said we'd all cry together. They made it clear they wanted me there no matter what condition I was in. Last night I drove up to Mountain View and stayed far too long. I didn't cry. I had a lot of fun. We talked about my uncle. We talked about adoption. We talked about music. It was so refreshing.
When I got home, Micah woke up at 2am. He seemed really upset so I went in and held him, and as I did, I thought of Uncle Roy and a huge peace flooded my body. My heart didn't ache anymore.
I woke up to a text my sister sent telling me she had read my letter...barely making it through...and that it was hard to be in the room there. I'm grateful so many others are there with him. My sister and parents left and now, he's being sedated and his family waits there with him.
My heart is heavy again with sadness. And deep love. Such a difficult and sacred time. My mind is really foggy right now. And I can't help imagining myself being there. Which is making me cry even more. But it's ok. These tears are worth it. I love him. I love my family. And in just a few short minutes...he'll be reunited with so many loved ones and we'll wait for our turn to see him again. It'll all be ok, but it doesn't make it easy.
Where do I begin? Truly, where do I begin?
I love you. That's a good start. You're my birthday buddy. May 20. I've always thought of it as our day. I have so many good memories of coming over your house, playing with Sadie, having Bonnie apply press-on nails to my little bitty hands! Good times! I remember your warm smile...and that mustache. :) Classic Uncle Roy.
My family isn't good at keeping in touch. We just aren't. It's a problem, a flaw. But now, it is what it is. So, of course I wish I had flown out to Michigan more, emailed you and Aunt Geri regularly, etc etc. But even though I didn't (and sorry about that), I want you to know that when I think of childhood memories with my extended family, it's you I think about. It's Aunt Geri getting food ready in her kitchen. I remember spending the night a few times when I was really little while my parents went out of town. You;re the uncle I spent the most time with, really. And, I love you.
For a large part of my life you have been confined to a wheelchair. You, Uncle Roy, have taught me so much about life through your quiet and humble example. About pain and about joy. About perseverance, never giving up, that life is good...finding beauty that surrounds us. Did you always feel happy? No. Who is? But that's how I saw you. And it changed me. The truth is, you were always just my uncle...and you happened to be in a wheelchair. But as I got older, I realized how much that changed your life and what that meant. Without me even knowing it, you taught me. I mean, once a teacher always a teacher right?
I learned that physical limitations were only that...physical. And that what was limitless was the influence of our spirits and the love we had to share. In a very real way, you prepared me for one of my greatest gifts and blessings...for Samantha. I think her birth and life could have been so much harder if I hadn't seen how "normal" life can be when things don't seem so "normal." How life isn't about what we can't do...but what we can do. And there's so so much we can do. You taught me that and nestled hope in my heart that I didn't even know was there until I needed it. Thank you.
So, I have a request. I believe with my whole heart that when we leave our bodies behind, we greeted by those we love...people who have loved us and have been watching out for us from the other side. Some are family members, others are those who just feel like family to us. I'd like you on my team to watch over Sammy. And maybe when it's her turn, you'll be there to welcome her home...especially if I'm not there to do it myself. I'd like you there.
I love you. I wish I were there to do it myself, but Aunt Geri is going to give you a big hug and kiss from me now. And if life is eternal, which I believe it is, this here on Earth goes by pretty fast.
I guess I'll see you soon.
Love you always,