Wednesday, November 02, 2005

for my great-uncle, dying

I don't know if you're already gone. This sadness I've felt for the last two days tells me you will not be here much longer, if you have not already left...

How to say good-bye when I'm 500 miles away?

The last time I saw you, I knew it was the last - but the room was full of people and I didn't want to seem pessimistic. Hard to say 'I know I'll never see you again so I must say good-bye now'. But I did now and that knowledge was breaking me inside, but I didn't want to cry right then - under bright lights and family eyes.

I also wanted to keep hoping that you would find the strength to fight. I though if I said good-bye you would think I didn't believe you could make it. Torn between the truth and an encouraging lie, my honesty and my words failed me.

In the months that followed, I thought maybe I'd been wrong. Maybe you could pull through and I was thinking about how nice it would be to get to visit you again. Go down to your farm in Indiana, which you call the halls of liberty - where time doesn't matter and the days slip by with music (of course, always music), crossword puzzles, walks with Sandy-dog, chess games and your anecdotes, quotes, erudite tidbits of wit and information. Before going to bed you would say good-night and tell me not to stress. My reply would be, as always is, 'there is no stress here'. Outside there would be a silence deep with peaceful sounds - leaves rustling, trees sighing... and in the morning a chorus of birds and you, already awake, listening to the news in the kitchen...

I've only really known you a little over a year and am so grateful to have had the chance - and yes, a little angry that it's over so soon. You were already 84 when I met you (when you'd see a recent photo of yourself you'd ask who the old goat is). A car accident and a wreck of complications... these have taken what time you may have had left. But I can't feel cheated because I have been truly blessed to know you. You have been a source of such generous support and I can only hope, can only pray with every inch of my being that in your last moments on this earth you will know how much you were loved and how dearly you will be missed.

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