I Miss Him Already

My dad called me fairly late Monday (Has it only been barely two days?) – late for him, anyway – to tell me that my uncle had died.  I’m in shock.  Complete, total, disbelieving shock.  I find myself numb… sad…. He was young – barely 50 – and so vibrant, full of life.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem like someone who was so full of life should not be living…. 

He didn’t have any children, but oh how he loved being an uncle – and he REALLY loved being a great-uncle.  How he would smile and his face would light up when he was around Annabelle, Clementine and Judah!   I was so looking forward to seeing him and seeing how happy he would be when Judah would inevitably smile and laugh when Uncle Steve would chase him.  I know it would have completely delighted my uncle, and my heart aches at the fact that they will never share those moments, that Judah will never hear my uncle’s big, echoing laugh, will never get to have a relationship with this generous, fun-loving, boisterous man who loved and celebrated life. 

I don’t have any pictures of my uncle with me since I haven’t yet been able to recover my hard drive files, but this is a picture of Judah that I was looking forward to showing my uncle. Uncle Steve gave us some money before we left for Nigeria and said, “Use it for something you WANT, not something you NEED.” We had a beanbag made for Judah in Nigeria, and he LOVES it. He squeals with excitement and speed crawls to it, throwing his body into the beanbag as he laughs and laughs. One morning I even came into the room to find Judah by himself sitting on the chair and “reading” a book. I know my uncle would have been thrilled to know how much Judah is enjoying his gift.

This Saturday we were supposed to have a family Christmas, a late celebration with everyone gathered at my parents’ house… celebrating that we were home from Nigeria, celebrating being together again, celebrating Judah’s first birthday, celebrating all that God has done this year….

And now… now I don’t know how if I really know how to celebrate…. I don’t know how to be normal.  It sometimes feels that life should stop for a moment to mourn with people, but it doesn’t.  It still goes on.  Urbana still continues, babies still need to be fed and bathed and played with, people still go to work, we still need to eat….

This Saturday.  Four days.  We were supposed to see him in four days.  After months and months of waiting for this trip home, waiting for this reunion, our gathering will be so different than our usual loud, fun (and let’s be honest, sometimes argument-filled) gatherings. 

And I know that people always say, “But I just saw him” or “But I was going to see him!” when something like this happens, as if somehow just seeing someone guarantees that you’ll get to see him again, but what else can you say?  How else can we deal with the shock of having someone ripped out of our lives, of suddenly being faced with the reality that the person you just saw or were just going to see is no longer there to hug, to hold, to talk to, to see, no matter that every pore in your being longs for even one more day, one more chance to squeeze him so hard that he would never doubt how much he is loved (not that one more day would really be enough, though)… one more chance to make up for the fact that you forgot to call him on Christmas this year and dang it, on his birthday too, even though you kept meaning to?

I’ve been avoiding asking the question, “How are you?” to my family because I know how we are.  We’re holding up.  But out of reflex I asked my dad that on the phone and then told him, “That’s a dumb question, isn’t it?” 

“Yeah, but we have to ask it,” he said.  But how do we respond?  “I’m missing”?  A part of me is gone, is incomplete in some ways.  Maybe it’s like learning to live without a limb – or without electricity.  I don’t think I’ll ever REALLY be used to it, but I deal with it, cope, and some days, really, I don’t think about it too much.  I light a candle and grab a flashlight and know that flashlights and candles and nights without light are the new norm.  Some days, though, it’s all I can think about.  Nothing feels quite right.  Always there is a sense that something is missing, no matter how bright the flashlight is blazing, that it isn’t supposed to be this dark, that this isn’t how life is supposed to be.

A bad analogy, but maybe loss is a little like that.  Sometimes I feel fine, and other times the loss will slam me square in the heart and I’ll start crying as the reality hits me a little more (because there’s still a part of me that doesn’t REALLY believe this).  Some moments seem almost normal, yet always lingering beneath the surface is this acute awareness that this isn’t how life is supposed to be, that there is something, someone, missing, and yeah, you cope, you deal with it because you have to… but it isn’t quite right. 

I miss him.  I miss him already.


6 thoughts on “I Miss Him Already

  1. So sorry to hear about your uncle. I lost my uncle a few years ago too – he was in his 40’s. I can relate to everything you said, especially about his relationship with your child(ren) – now you feel like this person you looked up to all these years would be so thrilled to see your kid, and you as a parent, and you are doing such an incredible job! And you know, being sad is okay, of course the emotion will fade almost without you realizing it, but sneak back from time to time. As life does march on, you hold onto happy memories, yet a part of you will always feel cheated out of more. But our time on earth is a blink- 50 years, 100 years, 5 minutes… it is all relatively minuscule compared to eternity… not that we can possibly fathom it. He’s just there a hair earlier. I hope that everyone in your family can find peace this weekend, and know that you will be together again. Praying for you tonight.

  2. Oh, Christie and Chris, our family has been there too. There is the gaping loss after an accident and the phone calls you never hope to receive.

    Blessings on you as you gather with your family circle. May you find comfort and strength in being together and in celebrating a life well-lived, though too short by our measure.

    Hugs, M

  3. 😦

    Still waiting to hear from your Dad and Mom…Don’t know whether I should fly down or not. I feel like I should—-silly, I guess—-not like I could do anything…but, it’s all I can think of.

    I’m sorry it happened like this. I wish he could have seen you guys one last time. My Mom said he was such a vibrant presence at Thanksgiving and he seemed really happy to be around everybody.

    I feel especially awful for your Dad and Grandma Seiger….I wish I could send flowers or something. I am waiting to hear if there will be a memorial service or something.

    This is how it happens, though. Like a flash. So fast and out of nowhere. Even when it’s “slow”, it feels fast…because you never want to think of life without the people you love.

    I’m sorry, kiddo. I’m praying God will comfort you guys.

  4. Pingback: In Loving Memory « This Winkler Scraps

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