I have been staring at an empty white page for a couple of hours. My uncle Bob encouraged me to write my first novel. He encouraged me to try that first acting gig. He encouraged me toward academic excellence.
He died this afternoon.
The actual crisis happened the day before. He went into cardiac arrest and was out for too long. Though his heart was still beating, the damage had been done. Not even the most intelligent brain on the planet can think its way through to survive without oxygen. And he was easily the most intelligent man I’ve known.
A lifelong educator, and a university founder, he loved to see people succeed. Students, friends, families. Everyone. I think that was the only reward he sought when he reached out to encourage someone. Seeing them succeed was, to him, a blessing most divine.
I’m still speechless. I cannot imagine a world where his laughter won’t be a siren’s call daring me to set a new goal.
I wanted to say something really profound about death. But I’m failing. The best I’ve had so far is: Death is the ultimate thief, stealing from us that which is most precious – the souls of our loved ones.
My aunt, even though she’s grieving, has said a funeral is not the right way to honor Bob’s passing. Instead, she plans to hold a celebration of his life on what would be his next birthday. That is so appropriate. It’s what he’d do. When I heard her say it, I knew it was exactly what should be done.
Yet that pending life celebration is also a bit of thievery. I need my angry-cry. Anger that he’s been taken. Sorrow that he’s been taken. Maybe it’s partially selfish. Though I have seen first-hand the good he’s brought to people’s lives, and I feel sorrow for all who’ve lost him. But… yeah. I need my selfish angry-cry too. I’ll do that in private. Tonight. So that when the day comes to celebrate his life, I’ll be able to smile and laugh and talk about all the amazing good he did in this world.
I’ll miss you, Uncle.