Yesterday my mother lost her only sibling. My Uncle Bill was about five years older than my mom. He wasn’t a creepy uncle. He was an affectionate and laid back one and I regret that we were not closer. To say that he will be missed is an understatement. His illness was sudden and he went fast. As we all say in these times…thank god that he did not suffer. The problem with death is that it is those left behind who do the suffering when they grieve.
I feel so sorry for my mother who is dealing with losing her only sibling. It has hit her hard. I cannot even imagine losing one of my siblings. Perhaps I will be the first one to die. I think of my brothers and my sister and wonder if I will be at their death bed. Will I comfort their children when they die? Or will it be them at mine? Will they hold my children and tell them how much I loved them?
It is hard to ask these questions. Imagine our mortality and those around us that we care deeply for. You know that you will one day lose your parents. That is tradition. They better die before you. And your kids damn well better die after you. But your siblings…it is a wild card. I remember us as children and the thought of any of us dying seems unfathomable. I changed some of their diapers and babysat for them. One of my brothers and I used to fight like wild animals. Sometimes we still do.
Growing up with someone is special. No matter if you really don’t get along with their personality. Having a shared history matters. There are things in this world that only my two brothers would understand because we were raised together. They know how crazy our parents are. One glance between us can convey a huge understanding as we make fun of one of them or another sibling.
Family is never appreciated more than when you lose someone you love. My grandmother felt less gone knowing that her sisters were still alive. Our families help us through the grieving process. We need to know that pieces of our loved ones are carried on.
One day I know that we will experience the losses of each other. I can only hope that during that time we are able to help bring comfort to the family that remains. I know without a doubt that they will take care of my children and that I will take care of theirs. No matter how busy our lives are. There is always that love between us.
This all better be a long way in the future, by the way. Til then it is the reminder of loss that the family that surrounds us is the most important. That no matter the curve balls that life throws our way, we need to remember that in nurturing our relationships we nurture ourselves.
Go hug someone you love. Send a text to your brother or sister. Life goes by too fast. But love is always there.