My uncle died suddenly yesterday. He was young. Was. Past tense. How did he become past tense? We are all reeling and confused, sad and heartbroken, and scrambling to get all of the people who love him back to Minnesota to celebrate his life and mourn and grieve together.
I won't go into all of the details of Bob's life. Heck, I probably only know 0.4% of the details of Bob's life. What I do know is that he fought back when all odds seemed stacked against him. He did really hard things in the face of terrible adversity. He made really stupid choices, got knocked down, got up, and tried again. He showed up. At family gatherings, both big and small, he'd find a way to get there. We never quite knew how or when he'd arrive, but he showed up, smiling and with an amazingly dry and sarcastic remark to open most conversations. I think that's what I'll miss most. The sly smile and calmly spoken, hilariously smart one liners. What will his parents miss most? What will his daughters miss most? What will his grandchildren miss most? I can't say. Those are their stories to tell and their memories to hold tight.
Many moons ago, before kids and when Jim was in the military, Jim and I visited Bob when he lived on the East Coast. He took us to a ridiculously fancy steak restaurant where I felt insanely out of place for many reasons. I was a vegetarian, a huge cheapskate who didn't even understand how the menu worked, and they talked fast. I joked that I bet I was the only person there wearing a skirt from Target. He agreed. That was the trip that I saw Christmas wrapping paper with lines to help cut straight edges for the first time. It seemed so big city, East Coast to me. Bob, fully aware of my naivete on almost all subjects, told me that there was a little restaurant down the street that sold ferret on a stick. He got me hook, line, and sinker. Then he laughed at me for a long time. We all brought it up on occasion.
I saw Bob in August. Same Bob. Quiet. Biting humor. Smile. Sitting on the sides. He showed up. I'm so glad he did.
Plan the family reunion. Buy the plane ticket. Love big enough so people know it without you having to say it. But say it anyway.