Two weeks ago tonight my Uncle Tom died. I went and sat beside Grandma while she got the news. I brought her a glass of water. I offered to sit up with her. I had no words.
“No,” she said, “I think I’ll just go to bed.”
My cousin Alex said at the memorial. “When he died, I thought the world should stop.”
But it didn’t.
I cried that night. Hard. Maybe harder than I’ve ever cried before. I sat here alone and sobbed. Harder than I needed to, really. I think I felt pressure to get that over with…to get it out…so that I could be strong for Grandma and whatever tomorrow brought. That was my opportunity to grieve for and by myself. And I made the most of it.
I think I may have literally cried my heart out, because I feel awfully empty inside. Except for those moments when it hits that Tom is gone forever. Then my stomach flips over…just to remind me that I’m not completely empty, and I take a deep breath and close my eyes for a moment before I go on.
Grieving happens in waves. That’s merciful, really.
Tom died Friday night. Our friend and neighbor died Wednesday afternoon. Tom was 60. She was 64. He had been diagnosed with cancer five months before. She died so suddenly that still we can’t believe she’s gone. He waited too long to go in for treatments. She was at the doctor’s office for an appointment a few hours before she died, but had no idea there was anything wrong that was life-threatening.
Her husband called to tell us that she had died. He said he’d like it if I came over. I went.
The medics were still there. She was stretched out on the living room floor, covered with a sheet. She was there…but gone.
There is a sort of routine that happens when someone dies I suppose. Certain people who come and go. Questions to ask and answer. Forms to fill out. Steps to take.
I watched…from a distance. Such a distance. How could it be so distant, yet in the same room?
It felt appropriate for me to be there. There was fellowship in our shared losses. I didn’t worry about how to act or what to say. I was too deep and too close into the death of my uncle to feel outside of this. We worked together to do what needed to be done.
All from a distance. From such a distance.
Two weeks ago tonight, I cried my heart out. Maybe when it comes back this will all sink in.
For now, I am especially appreciative of grace for the moment. And for your prayers.
Don’t worry. I’m okay.
Like Grandma says, “I’m okay. Just very, very sad.”