Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy. ~Author Unknown
My Uncle passed away and I did the thing I do when something sad happens and I feel sad but I can't go there because to go there, to feel what I would have to feel, I just know I can't. I'm don't think I'm strong enough. So I shut down. I push it out of my mind.
He did not die and he is not gone.
My Mom and Dad both got on the phone. FYI, when my Dad calls me, it's bad news. He never calls. He loves me, but I call him. We have a lot of laughs. But the laughs would not be happening unless I called him. Unless I flew home. Unless I said, "Let's go to the bar tonight."
I do not mind. This is how we are.
I answered the phone.
Dad: Hey, Kay.
Dad: What's wrong? You sound upset.
Me: I'm just scared that every time you call that you're going to tell me that Uncle died.
Dad: Oh... (long pause) Well, he did die.
And I am not trying to be flip in recounting this conversation. In fact, it makes me love my Dad more that he hoped to lure me in and distract me with day to day chit chat and how is the weather out there and then, you know, slip that thing in about my Uncle.
I started crying and I would guess my Dad has heard me cry three times in my life... though I can't name them except for the time he called me to tell me my cousin was murdered. And I know he can't take it, to hear me cry, and that comes from only a good place. A place of love. It makes him too sad.
We are family that has had so much sadness. And we have had enough. So now we block it, with a shield. Like Super Heroes.
So I expected him to do one of two things... hand the phone to my Mom which is his most famous move or to intellectualize the situation.
This is a tried and true measure for an emotional avoider and I could call up the Learning Annex and tour the country doing speaking engagements on it. I learned it from the best. The two of them.
So I thought he'd say, "He's in a better place. He was suffering. You don't want him to suffer anymore, do you?"
Then the burden falls on me... I don't want to let someone suffer! That is wrong! That is bad! I want him to unsuffer! So yes! I am now not only unsad, I am joyous! What a marvelous thing to have happened! This death to me is by-gones!
Thank you! And Good night!
But instead my Dad lowered his voice and said, "I know you are sad. But I want you to know I'm really proud of you. How you went to visit your uncle and held his hand for so long last week. How scared you were that you would fall apart but you didn't. And even though he was having those delusions, remember how Auntie said he knew it was you? How he made that joke, "You've told me 6,000 times Kayla is here." You are a good person, you let him know that you loved him and you were so strong. So, I know you are sad. But remember, you are strong, too."
He stunned me. He made me speechless. He took everything that was sad and for that moment, made it okay.
My mom of course got on the phone and said, "Why are you crying? We expected this. You don't want him to suffer anymore, do you?"
I was too proud of my father to be mad at my mother.
Life is funny. I wish there was a button you could push on someone that, as they are relaying a story or information, (say, my Dad calling me to tell me about my Uncle), every bit of back story about their life would spit out like a fortune. For my Dad, I know it's, "I have not been able to protect you enough from sad things... when I hear you cry, it makes me feel like... I'm not a good father. I didn't have a father so... I'm just trying to do the best I can."
If I had one Super Power, it would be just to know. Just what is filed deeply within you as you are telling me what you are telling me? With my mother it's, "I haven't even faced my own mother's death over 40 years ago, how can I possibly handle this?" I think it would help us be more compassionate in the world.
Maybe instead of a button... knowing that science may be years and years and forever ever away from us, we should just have compassion for each other that there is more to the story if someone is upset by something you decided they should not be upset by.
For me, if you pushed my button, yes, I'm crying for myself, but also my aunt who loved him so immeaurably that you could feel a light radiate in the room when she walked in and his eyes would meet hers, I am thinking that to come from a big Italian family, that I will lose so many more people that I love, I am crying because I wish I lived on East Coast and could have been closer to him, a grandfather figure after losing my own at 19, I wish I had my life sorted out, I wish I was ready to move to New York... even part time, so I could be close to every one I love, I wish I didn't miss my cousin so much, I wish I didn't think about my own father's mortality... I wish, I wish, I wish. I wish there was one person that I could talk to about all this... who I would feel like I was not burdening, that I felt like I could trust, that wouldn't just be using their back story to shape my future story.
So I feel a little lost. I miss my Uncle. I do. But all these other things are so profoundly swirling around my head.
Dad: "So, I know you are sad. But remember, you are strong, too."
PS, a lot of you have emailed or left comments of such sweet concern. I am a World Champion Bouncer Backer. Seriously, I think I am in a book or something. So... don't worry, I'll be okay.