I remember when my Uncle was dying…

It was complex. I was in New York, on vacation. For my Mom’s birthday.

A woman maliciously decided to tell us that he’d died. My mother, my aunt, and me. I didn’t cry much, then- I was in total shock.I started making phone calls and booking tickets. And then I hyperventilated in the elevator on the way to the airport.

I had to take a flight home alone. I cried the entire way- I slept, and I cried.

Then we heard the truth- he was having something like ten heart attacks a day. He was flat-lining all the time. He was on life support. But he was basically gone… just gone. But not actually yet. My mother would get to see him with his heart still beating. I felt hope at that. She would feel so much better.

My uncle is dying. And I didn’t go see him. This was all I was thinking- and so much more. The truth was I was terrified to see him. I didn’t think I was worthy of seeing him after such a sparse relationship.
  • His entire family is in complete denial and thought he was going to recover. Meanwhile he’s on life support, his organs are giving out, and he’s literally decomposing on the hospital bed. They’re torturing him, keeping him from relief, making him hold on because they can’t let go. Not yet. This wasn’t supposed to happen- not now, not so quickly. That’s the startling thing about heart attacks. I managed to write this in a devastated, turbulent state.

    I felt sorry for him. I felt sorry for his family- his young daughters. I was mostly sorry that I didn’t spend enough time with him. Not nearly enough.

    I was a real mess for days. In my diary, I wrote: I can’t really sleep. I just clean and clean and wait for the news I know is going to come at any second. I keep the TV on until I literally get so sick of it and even then I keep it on because- I don’t want to hear my thoughts anymore, please not anymore.

    I’m grieving. But. I have a strange sense of gratitude, in a sickened way, for the relatively calm, peaceful life I have- that I still have my father, my mother- so much. I have wasted quarter of my life worrying stressing and other negative emotions, but I know better now. Every moment is precious. I want to vomit.

    I hope they pull the plug soon- as awful as it sounds.

    Yet, I hear the dreaded phone call ringing in my ears.

The doctors had said no piece of his heart was good except the size of the tip of your finger. If he ever recovered which was about 2% likely, his brain would be so damaged he wouldn’t be able to function. Usually three does the trick for that. He was having thirty a week, at least.

I often thought of the family, focused on them, grieved for them a lot. I didn’t think any of them would survive without him. They were very codependent. I didn’t feel anything about that he was in a better place, though that was the first thing I told my mom when she was crying- but I tried not to dwell on that. The grief was enough. I prayed to God that he was alright wherever he was- and I prayed to God- I told his spirit in the Universe that I loved him, I love you, I love you, I said it about twenty times. And sometimes, I said I was sorry.

I wasn’t sure I believed in God at that point in my life. I thought that God was invented and that I was a fool to think of God as real. I honestly thought that. Now I’m not so sure. Now I know I must have been wrong.

But mostly, I just said, “I love you, Uncle.” Over and over. Over and over. It made my heart swell with so many things. The grief made me sick at first. I was like a mime, shuffling through the kitchen, my body was stinging- it was so eery, how much I wasn’t a body anymore- I felt as though I was just a mind of thoughts and emotions.

All I could think was that I would do anything, anything if Uncle would somehow, magically recover, even though I knew he was already gone- if by some, rare, insane change, I would just do anything.

I also had a grand epiphany, but not in the sense of a realization- I thought I had strong, resounding epiphanies in the past, hundreds of them- but I had no idea. I really hadn’t a clue.

This wasn’t just an epiphany, it didn’t feel like it at all. It was more like I just knew that my entire perspective had shattered and changed: life was suddenly so, so fragile and dream-like- that I had to do what I intended to do. I had to write for the rest of my days, follow my passion, because life was much too valuable- so, so valuable and too short and too- too everything to just not to do it all.

I’ve been so ungrateful in the past! My father almost died once and I didn’t even have this epiphany. I’ve wasted so much time being angry, suicidal, resentful, grieving upon my mistakes- what a waste of this life! I thought I was worthless, that my life meant nothing- how horrible- I’m lucky to have my life. I have to live everyday like my last. I wish I could- I wish I had that power! I wish that I could live everyday unafraid like I was then- because I felt that day I thought Uncle died- I felt the way it would feel if it was my last day on Earth, alive.

Every time I recall that feeling I get chills. It’s still something that’s fallible to words. What I’m writing here is doing it the biggest injustice.

Sometimes I think I needed this to happen. Sometimes I think God knew I wasn’t ready for him to die- and no one was. But it doesn’t matter except that he recovered. I’m thankful in the weirdest way that it did. Or I would have never put my life on the path that it was meant to be. But even that…

This life is all about loving, giving and giving. Having anything means nothing. At least not in the face of death.

The best part is that he recovered fully.

Fully.

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