My Uncle Tony, from Northern Ireland, passed away this morning, on the dawn of my 26th ( and my Godmother, his nieces’, 50th) birthday.
Standing in the living room of my grandparents a few hours previously, I picked up and put down a photo of Tony, his wife Bridie, and their adopted son Joseph, who has special needs.
He worked hard his whole life to provide for his family. A Catholic and religious man, his wife Bridie, my aunt, has built more than one well in Africa. I’m surprised I am telling you this, but I’m actually mentioning it because it’s how my day started.
My grandparents have come back from Florida, and they’re staying with my mom and sister and I because their basement flooded. I am so thankful they’re here. For one, it felt like Christmas again, to wake up to happy birthday hugs from my whole family.
My Papa’s lungs aren’t well, he was an avid smoker and is now dealing with the consequences. Later in the day, our mother texted us, telling us he in the hospital, for the second time in recent months, with a possible infection.
This morning, I gave myself an extra 20 minutes before work, to drink coffee and read The Goldfinch, thinking it would be a nice way to start my day. My Papa sitting beside me, we chatted back and forth about my new job, and he asked if we had a parking lot there, and said, “Kid, you’ve got it made”, when I told him we had.
It’s funny the love I get from small interactions with these people,who raised me up and know me so well. My Facebook timeline is a web of stories, colorful photos and well-wishes from friends throughout my life. I wish I could stop and let each and every one of them know how much they mean to me and how well I am doing, and that I hope they are, too.
More than ever, there comes a time when things like death, life, weddings and birthdays happen, and we wish we could hold onto someone during this time, and I do feel that way today. It would be a good time for me to acknowledge my own strength already on my own, but part of being strong is knowing when to be soft, and today’s a softer feeling kind of a day. Are you reading this?
For the past week or so I’ve really been trying to practice what I preach, about feeling and being vulnerable. I did something wrong, I acknowledged it, heard the other’s side, and kept living. I spent time in self-reflection, I kept going. I think it’s something to be said for someone who will be as open and honest as possible, hold the other’s feelings in their heart and love the way things turn out anyway, as everything happens for a reason.
Today, I send my birthday wish to my Uncle Tony and to my Papa, for being soft and strong at the same time.
Sadness isn’t the feeling. Beginning, and ending, and starting over on the day of birth, and how I know in my heart, where we are right now, is the perfect place for us. For me.