When I was a child I always recognized the tight knit family dynamic I was living in. It was always vivid in color. Like a rainbow in a child's picture book. All the colors, all the feels, all my childhood. And as the years have gone by, I've still seen this dynamic in all it's glorious color, just not as often. You see, I fled the nest, moved South and never came back. So the color is still bright, just not shining directly in my face everyday. But a phone call, a visit and or a face time can bring me right back. Or in the case of yesterday, grief.
My Uncle passed away last night. And although we weren't in complete shock of his passing, it's still shocking, because it's my Uncle and it's death. And death is sad. His death was sad. And I'm not even sure it's really hit me. I've known this man for all my life and although I haven't seen him in years, I can quote him with the snap of my finger and it makes me smile. And yet remembering happier times with my Uncle alive, that can be really sad. And as my Mom hung up the phone with my Dad earlier in the day yesterday, I could feel Daddy's pain. The pain of losing his brother. It was sitting in my mother's eyes. Her tears, her face, her tone, it was killing her to not be back home with Dad. To not be with her husband during this time of grief. And all of that beautiful color that I just spoke of was off in the distance and I couldn't see it at this very moment. There was sadness. Great sadness. And all I wanted to do was pull our family together like magic and be there for my Dad. But I couldn't.
But God could, and he did.
With my Mom in Nashville this week visiting and Dad scheduled to come this weekend, life went on as normal. But news of my Uncle's condition surfaced a couple days ago. So as God would have it, my brothers and sister would be with Dad the day my Uncle died and Mom would be here with me. And as we felt the sadness and the distance between us, knowing that we were together even though far apart, made it all better. It was like the family line stretched from Tennessee to California and couldn't be broken.
These are the family ties. They have been built between each and every one of us, and they remain strong and sturdy. Because that is how this family is built.
This might sound trivial to some, but to me not so much. Because although grief sometimes is the culprit, the very thing that reminds you of why family ties are important, it actually does remind you. Reminds you to show up for the people you love. I'll never forget the day my Grandpa went into the hospital and it was serious and my Dad didn't leave his side. And within 24 hours, my oldest brother was on a plane to Hawaii. He sat right at our Dad's side until Grandpa took his last breath. My Dad needed him, but didn't say it. My brother went, without blinking an eye.
Despite tragedies we have been through as a family over the years, one thing has always remained. No one is ever alone. My Uncle wasn't alone. His family was there. Till his last breath. Through sorrow and pain it's always been the same...this overwhelming continuous action of being there for one another never fails, never falters. And those are the family ties that can't be broken.
Last night Mom and I hugged before bed and she said "hug me, hug me tight." It was then that I knew the family dynamic that I've known my whole life, in all it's vibrant color, was standing there with us. And we were not alone. And for some reason, it made me realize that no matter what, we are always going to be ok. Even when we're not.
My Mom said tonight that my Grandma use to say, "God never gives us more than we can handle." "I just wish he didn't trust me so much."
Words to live by. Words to carry on. Family to love.
We're gonna miss you Uncle Andy.