So... do you ever say good bye forever?
I have to admit when I saw this topic, I laughed. I mean... I am practically an expert on this subject by now. And to all of you on my friends list, you all probably think I am going to write about the breakup of my engagement... but, in fact, I am not! I know! Crazy... I am going to write, instead, about a good bye that I said on August 19th 2007.
First, I suppose I should give a little back up info. My immediate family, which consists of my parents, my brother, my sister and I (and I suppose, at the time, my then fiance Mark could be counted in that group.) is extremely close to my moms side of the family - that is, my grandmother (so, my mothers mother.) and my aunt (mom's sister.) and her family which at that time consisted of her husband, her son, and her daughter. I think I explained all that properly.. I hope so!
Okay. Moving on. So, August of 2007 really started out as any other month did. Mark (the now-ex fiance) and I had planned a trip to LA and San Fransisco which was supposed to be happening around the end of the month, and I was really excited for that... other than that.. all was normal. One evening, I was talking to my dad on the phone when he casually mentioned that my uncle (so, this is my... mothers sisters husband.) had been to his doctor recently, as he wasn't feeling well - again. I have to admit that I took the news just as casually as it was offered. See.. my uncle had Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. But.. he was better. He was in remission. He had had so many treatments done...
The next day, I got a call from my mother who was in tears. My uncles cancer was back. Again. This was, like.. the third or fourth time. I don't even remember right now. And the doctors were at a loss. They had tried the chemo. They had tried other treatments. They had even tried a stem cell treatment. They told my uncle that he really only had two choices. "Choice number one? Do another round of chemo. It could work. Maybe. But, you've had a lot of chemo done already... and your body may not be able to handle another round. Choice number two? We do nothing. You should have a couple of months... look, we're really sorry.... take the weekend.. think about it. Come back in on Monday."
This was on a Friday.
That night, we left my aunt, uncle and cousins in peace to talk and whatever else they wanted to do. But, the next day, we all gathered at my aunts. I felt almost like it was wrong to do that.. as if we were attending a funeral already or something... but, of course, I went. My uncle was there. He was making jokes (that was him. Always joking.). He ate. He drank some iced coffee. Then, as evening came, he started to act a little bit weird... he was saying things that didn't really make a whole lot of sense.. we were all worried, but we thought maybe it was the pain pills he'd been taking or something... Mark and I went home that night after saying good bye to him and telling him we would see him the next day.
I remember Mark and I went to Subway that night and I couldn't eat. How could I? This was just.. tragic.
The next day, Mark, my brother, my brothers girlfriend and I were supposed to go to Niagara Falls. After getting the news about my uncle, though, we had decided to wait and see how things went before we decided for sure if we were going to go or not. That morning, I was in the shower and I asked Mark to call my brother. He did.
I came out of the shower and the look on Marks face told me everything that I needed to know. He was gone. It hadn't been a couple of months. Hell, it hadn't even been a couple of weeks. It had been two days. Two days.
I am not going to write all the details about how he died and what happened directly after, because I know it would be too much for some - understandbly so. All I will say is that he died at home and it was traumatic. Extremely.
I was a mess at the funeral. I remember holding onto my aunt to keep her from falling over. She was shaking so much, it terrified me. My cousin, my uncles son, was looking at me funny... later I asked him why... he said that I had been shaking too.
What followed was weeks of grieving.. sadness.. anger.. all kinds of things. Mark and I went on our California trip because of my aunts insistence, but it was definitely not nearly as fun as it would have been otherwise. I couldn't make peace with the injustice that had happened. It just wasn't fair. It really wasn't.
One night, in September, I was sitting outside and thinking about it. I was angry again. So angry at everything that had gone on. Why? Why had all of this happened? Why had my uncle died at the age of forty one when he had a wife and two young children? I remember starting to cry again and getting so frustrated. I was so tired. And I started talking.. yes, out loud... to my uncle, I guess. I told him what I was thinking and feeling. I told him that I didn't know if I believed in the afterlife or not, but that I was going to be cliche and ask him to send me a sign if he could.
Well... there was never any sign. Not really. Maybe. See... because about thirty seconds after all of that went on.. I started feeling more.. at peace. Oh, I was still angry. I still am angry to this day. And sad. But... something made me calm down and.. get a handle on my emotions. And while I have been sad about what happened every single day, I have not gotten out of control like that again.
Some people may say that was the sign that I asked for. Some may say that it was just the fact that I had finally allowed myself to vent like that. I don't know. But, I do know that on that night I felt peace for the first time since it had happened.
I went to the cemetary last month. I went to my uncles grave and talked to him silently. I thanked him for everything and said some other things. I left him some flowers and then I left.
I said good bye to my uncle on August 18th 2007, thinking I would see him again the next day. I said good bye to him again on the 19th. I said good bye again that night. I said good bye to him again last month. But.. while I have said good bye to him so many times.. I also know that he IS always with us, even if the afterlife does not exist in the traditional sense. And, so... maybe what they say is true.. maybe good byes aren't forever.
That got long.. thank you for reading.