I don’t mean watching it on tv or in the movies. I mean watching death through the eyes of people you love. It’s one thing to be the person dying but it’s another to be the ones living. My Uncle, my Mom’s brother, my Godfather — one of my Dad’s best friends is dying tonight. 24 hour hospice and an absolutely amazing family taking shifts to be with him every minute of every day. My shift is Sunday, I wonder if I will get to have my shift. I do hope so — but only if it means he doesn’t suffer for me to have it.
I feel for those who experience death without support. I’m sure it happens out there but I’m blessed for having never seen it. It’s days like today that make me appreciate the size of our family and the blood that runs so deep that it brings people together.
Stage 4 lung cancer and he never smoked a day. Awful. Originally called bronchitis — until the next day. None of the treatments worked for him — but they tried. How does it happen so quickly?
Kate, mom, Stephen and I sat with him on Dec 26th. Although he was tired and on oxygen watching him watch my Mom and her way was incredible. Seeing the way he looked at her made my heart ache but my heart warm all at the same time. How lucky they were to be so connected. Words weren’t needed… But… It’s my Mom so they were said. A few stories and Uncle Steve followed up with brief chort (my word for a chuckle and a snort combined) or a one-liner that reminded you how much he was still there.
Watching Moe care for him in a very prescriptive way when she returned home made me see that she was there for him. She was doing everything she could to manage and be in control of what he was doing. She was keeping him safe. Yet, around the corner the conversation with Kate made me see sadness, fear and love. She wanted everything to be just right– she wanted to protect him and seemed to be resigned to the road ahead. The boys, independently having discussions with me and my siblings wanting to share thoughts on losing a Dad. I think we are all in agreement whether it has happened to you or you are watching it happen you feel the permanent hole beginning to form. I think it widens and it doesn’t seem to ever close. It’s when you get caught up in the day to day it seems to disappear but it’s temporary. You remember, and it’s as wide as ever.
Watching death happen through the eyes of those you love is strange — waiting for death and having the time to process what it will actually mean is painful. I think understanding that the days are upon you causes reflection and assessment.
Tonight as I read Stephen’s email I found myself sitting in a chair crying. I’m crying for them. I’m for my Mom. I’m crying for the void that is upon us.
Rest Uncle Steve. Have a drink with my Dad and look down on all of us and be proud. Without you both we wouldn’t be who we are and share the amazing memories that we do. Love.