In my last post I mentioned that my uncle passed away over the summer.
My side of the family is Very small: just me, my mom, my aunt (who is actually my cousin's step-mom. Their mom died 10 years ago from alcoholism) and uncle and two cousins.
I got a call early one morning, my oldest cousin was hysterical as she told me that her step-mom just called and said her dad had passed away.
I had the unpleasant task of driving to my mom's apartment and telling her the news. Her only brother--only sibling for that matter. The only guy in our family. The only other person from her generation. I knew the next few days were going to be long.
Mom took it hard at first, but was able to settle down rather quickly, and for that I was thankful.
I found myself being the rock for my small, grieving family over the next week. It was a role I didn't mind playing. Yes, my family is small--but small doesn't always mean close. I loved my uncle, but our relationship was an interesting one. When I was small, I was terrified of him (not really sure why, he just made me feel off kilter). When I got older, I felt I had to earn his respect. Then, over the past 5 years we had slowly created a good relationship.
He had actually come down for my birthday last spring and he and I spent the day together and then we had a cookout at the house. That was one of my last memories of him, and I'm thankful it was a positive one. So many of my experiences with him over the years were full of drama, half-truths, and unnecessary conflict.
I had no idea that I'd be affected so deeply by my cousin's phone call about and my mom's reaction to his passing. I found myself reliving those conversations over the weeks that followed his death and it was hard. A even talked about missing him and was sad that he would never get to see her ride her bike without training wheels. When we first told the kids, A was so sad--I must say I wasn't expecting that. Sure she knew him, and had memories of him, but her reaction still caught me off guard. Thankfully Bug is too small to really understand, watching A deal with it was hard enough for me.
Yes, I miss my uncle and I am convinced the world will not be the same without him, but I have the comfort of knowing that in the end our relationship was as good as it could have been. The family dynamic has certainly been altered tremendously and will never be the same, but we'll figure it out and we'll make it work.