Marcel called this afternoon. “He’s gone,” he said. Just those 2 simple words. How could 2 simple words mean so much? Shouldn’t it take more that 2 words to communicate such a weighted message?
Uncle Lionel is gone. His life has ended. Seventy-eight (I think) years of living, loving, working, playing, parenting, grandparenting, sleeping, eating, crying, talking, driving a school bus, singing, smiling – over. Just like that. One last breath, and then it’s over.
Another family has lost their dad. Another woman has lost her husband. Another group of children have lost their grandfather. My mother-in-law has lost her brother. It happens every day. People die. It’s almost routine – each week the newspaper is full of death notifications. But for this family, it only happens once – today. No other day will be like today. No other feeling in their lives will come close to preparing them for what they will feel today.
I sit in silence and think of them – this family who is suffering loss. I think of them, and the tears form in my eyes and the lump forms in my throat. I know what it’s like to say good-bye to the man called “Dad”. I know what it’s like to lose someone who has a unique set of memories, a unique perspective, and unique wisdom that you can never turn to again. I know the tears that form on your pillow when you long for just one more chance to touch his age-worn hand, or see the twinkle in his eye, or hear his voice. I know the gasp of pain when you see other children in a supermarket call out to their Grandpa and then run to grasp his hand. I don’t know what this family has suffered, watching their father deteriorate like he has, but I know what it feels like when he’s gone.
Good-bye Uncle Lionel. You will be missed.