A friend wrote to me yesterday with a desire to share a story and a piece of her heart and I would like to now share it with you. Opening our hearts to each other takes courage and trust and it is how we heal, connect and grow together.
Another good friend often says that sometimes it feels really good to cry and so enjoy some healing tears. These are the moments that tell us what truly matters to us.
Here is Lesley’s story:
(Pardon the disjointedness, but I know you’ll understand.)
I was going to post this as a comment to your “Taking a Break” post, simply because you were asking for input, but I also thought it might be appropriate for your postings under Grief.
I need to get this out, and have been holding it in because we have so much else on our plates right now, as you know, so I thought of you and your blog. I thought if I posted a sweet little story about my uncle, it would definitely help me, and likely at least one other person who’s going through grief right now.
(I can very much empathize with your comment about thinking others wouldn’t want to hear you talking about your grief after a while – not in this instance, but in past ones, I definitely know the feeling. I make myself available, because of that empathy, to listen to others’ stories when I recognize that they need to tell them. Our family are born storytellers, on both sides; we see the value to the mind and heart.)
I bought a card for my uncle today at our local art store, Brush Strokes, a beautiful little print that I’m attaching a scan of, by an Ottawa artist. She signs as “Kathryn Mary”, and her work, including this card, can be viewed at kathysartwork.com
The card struck a nerve with me, and I realised I was holding in my tears as I tried not to talk at the checkout (failed!) and then couldn’t count out the money to pay for it. So here I am.
I lost my then-partner in a motor vehicle accident in September of 1994, and was home for Christmas by myself that year, staying in one of the upstairs bedrooms at my grama’s house – my uncle’s mother.
I mention the loss because it’s possibly the reason this happened (I’ll never know). However, it could have just been pure silly love. Which is, of course, just as good a reason as any to do silly things.
Christmas morning, my uncle came up to the bedroom and actually picked me up out of bed, and carried me down the stairs to the dining room, while I shrieked and laughed and pounded on his chest the whole time, like a little kid.
I was 27 years old at the time, and he was 56. Up until March of this year, he still could have done it, even though he’s now days away from being 74, and I weigh about 20 pounds more. 🙂
And that’s it. That’s the whole story. Big deal, eh?
Well, the point of it all is, I never felt so loved in all my life as I did for those few moments, and I’ll never forget that little “nothing”. It changed my life forever. (I did tell him that finally, a few years ago. He started talking about trees or something. We were out for a walk at the time.)
And my uncle, always super-strong in all ways, just checked himself into a hospice on Thursday.
And I can’t be there right now. Hence the card.
Hence my tears at the checkout.
And I get home and I’m drawing big messy red lipstick hearts all over the inside of the card, just like the little kid that I really am (and am proud to be!), and I’m in the bathroom putting layer after layer of lipstick on (which I haven’t worn in years), so I can put as many kisses as possible onto that card for him, and laughing at myself and spilling tears at the same time, just as I am now while writing this.
The title of the watercolour on the card is, very appropriately, “Proud To Be Me”. My uncle has always been proud to be himself, no matter who’s scoffing or laughing at him, or telling him he’s wrong and/or crazy, and he’s rubbed off. He’s one of the few in my life who have purposely set out to let me be me and be proud of myself, no matter how strange or silly I am. (“Weird” is his favourite word to describe me. I’d be really insulted if he called me “normal”.)
And there’s not much in life more important and valuable than being allowed and encouraged to be as You as you can possibly be.
My beloved uncle (with whom I’ve had numerous shouting matches in my life, because often two people being proud to be themselves disagree on stuff – imagine that!) has been carrying so many others, literally and figuratively, all his life, and it’s his turn to be carried, to that steepest and scariest place of all, and I can’t be there for him right now.
But guess what? He knows I’m there for him, as he’s always been there for me, no matter what. I’m sure he can feel my heart right now. And if he can’t feel it right this minute, because of drugs or other distractions, he will when he needs to.
I love you, Roy, lion king of a human being. Mailing kisses pronto. And even if you don’t get them in time, you’ll get them in time. See you soon. With love forever and ever and then some, Your Extra Kid.
Thanks, Mary. Love to you too, for what you do.
P.S. I’m not done crying, of course, but that’s okay and expected. Even Supermans know that. 🙂