Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Beginnings and Endings

This week I have been profoundly reminded of endings. You see, my great Uncle Jack’s life ended on Sunday. While we were all surprised, it shouldn’t have been that much of a shock, as he was 86 years old.

I’ve wanted to vocalize something for days; I just haven’t known what to say. I open word to type out my post, and the words just roll around in my head and they can’t seem to find their way to paper, at least in a cohesive way.

As I was returning home from the store late Sunday night, it dawned on me why losing family, or friends is so heartbreaking. Not only are they gone from your life, birthday parties, and holidays they also take a part of you with them.

My grandfather called me weediewart. It was my nickname that he had given me, probably from before I can remember, because I remember being referred by it often. No one calls me that anymore, which on one hand is a good thing, but on the other, it’s something I miss. And to Jack, I wasn’t Abby I was Abb. He left the last letter off my name, and always had. Even when he married us, he called me Abb. And Sunday night I realized that I would never be Abb again. My Aunt Nita calls me by my full name, unless she was joking with me about Jack’s unique nickname. And even if my entire family took to calling me Abb, it wouldn’t be the same. Then the thought came to me that Jack had taken Abb with him, just like my grandfather took weediewart.

Maybe that’s why death and funerals leave such a gaping hole in your life. You just aren’t losing the person, but you are losing a part of you too. I won’t just miss the Abb reference, I’ll miss a lot more, but the thing I know I’ll miss the most. My name.

I was also reminded this week that life is unpredictable. Here today, gone tomorrow. My grandfather hated funerals. He always swore that dying caused a burden to those still living. Maybe he was on to something. This week I often find my mind wandering back to birthday parties and holidays, and to my wedding and to my Aunt. I look over at my husband at night while he sucks the shingles through the ceiling sleeps peacefully and wonder what I would do, if suddenly he were gone. I can’t even begin to imagine. I remember how terrified I was when he a bad wreck a few years ago, and that was just worry over his injuries. I can’t even begin to imagine how my mom felt when my father had a heart attack last year. I hope that I never have to find out. I can’t imagine how quiet our house would be, and the knowledge that it would be like that from here on out. I can understand why so many widows and widowers remarry and even take their own lives. Silence is deafening.

So this Friday I’ll have “date night” with my family instead of just my husband. And instead of dinner and a movie, we will laugh, cry, and celebrate the life of my great Uncle Jack. I can’t think of a better date, or anywhere else I would rather be.

~The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. ~Mark Twain

~The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity. ~Seneca

~We understand death for the first time when he puts his hand upon one whom we love. ~Madame de Stael

~Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality. ~Emily Dickinson

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