Some of you may have noticed my radio silence for the last three weeks, some, maybe not. In any event, we had a family tragedy in that time, and I have not been able to write, emotionally, but also due to lack of time. Family, of course, comes first.
I will spare you all of the details, but the short of it is that a family member was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was young (mid-life, but too young to leave us) with kids and a wife at home, not to mention a large family and community who adored him. It was shocking to say the least, and part of the shock is that we still don’t have all of the details. The investigation is still ongoing. So in addition to the sadness of the loss itself, there are so many questions that are unanswered, and maybe some that never will be.
My immediate family and I were in the process of planning a trip with him and his family, so yes, we were all close, and now what was supposed to be a wonderful end to the summer is sad and subdued for all of these reasons. Although our extended family has always been close, I felt closer to this man in the past couple of years than I have my entire life because we communicated a lot through Facebook. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook but I would never give it up simply because it allows me to be in constant contact with family members who live far away. Now, one of my biggest Facebook commenters is missing. I don’t want to post anything because of the comments that won’t come. And of course since his death, I find posts daily that he would have loved; it just reminds me all over again of what we have lost.
We are heartbroken. I am heartbroken. He was the type of guy who simply enjoyed life, who found fun wherever he went. He wouldn’t want for us to grieve, and yet, it’s because of his zest and love of life that his death affects us so. A major part of our family is gone to us forever, and we must find a way to go on without him. We’re all so lost as to how to do that at this point. Of course, in time we will find our way but it will be a long time before we do.
I have been on both sides of the death coin—I lost my father to a longtime illness and now, I lost someone tragically and suddenly. Both of course are hard—it’s always hard to lose someone and let go, no matter the circumstances. But to lose someone suddenly like this (at least in my case) is much harder to accept. With my father, he fought long and hard to keep his independence, but by the end, he was tired and like so many other diseases, lost the fight. Anyone who has ever been in that position will tell you that it’s a sort of relief when they pass, knowing they are no longer in pain and suffering from all that ailed them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s easy to let someone go in this manner; but in many cases, you know what’s coming and you’re a little more prepared for it.
Losing someone suddenly like this, it’s too much of a shock and leaves you questioning everything you thought you believed in (again, this is just my experience). Had he had a heart attack or some other health issue that caused the accident, we might be able to accept it more easily. But as far as we know, nothing of this sort happened, and there are many circumstances, questions, and scenarios that surround the accident. Until we get those answers, we will not be at peace with this, and even then, I’m not sure the answers will help us to make sense of any of this.
When you lose someone, it’s like a part of you is broken forever. You must find a way to go on in a new form, living with that broken piece of you. The pain never really leaves you, but you learn to make it a part of who you are and move on from there. I had to do this when my father died. Now, I am broken again, and once again I have to learn to live with another part of me missing, a new altered state. In time, I will be able to live with the memories of him, but for now, all I can think of is how unfair life can be. I keep asking what any of us could have done differently so that this never would have happened, but of course, the answer is nothing. It was out of our control before it ever occurred. We are never truly in control of anything.
He would want us to be happy in life, to go on as if nothing had changed. This is not how it is though; we will eventually find our way, in our altered state. In the future, we will again laugh and love life as we once did, remembering him for who he was rather than focusing on the hole his death made. I want to feel that happiness again, if only because that’s what he would have wanted. But right now, I feel like a traitor having fun when he is no longer with us.
Life is a balance of everything, including happiness and sadness. I need to mourn this loss for a while, but I will move past it in time, reflecting not what we have lost, but what we had at all. I just have to find my way to that point.
I will try to live like my uncle, to find the fun in everything, to laugh heartily and often, to reach out and help so many people in the world, just as he did—I have never seen so many people attend a funeral in my life, from family to friends to coworkers to baristas from the local Starbucks. He touched so many people in his life and everyone loved “the man with the crazy laugh.” I can only hope that at the end of my life I have touched a fraction of the people that he did.
In the meantime, I will cherish all that I do have, all the people who are still with me in this world and who I love dearly. I hope you all do the same.