I always have a really hard time coming up with cute and creative titles. I just spent 3 minutes trying to figure something out, then decided that I could write my post before coming up with a title.
It's been an excruciatingly hard two weeks. Last Tuesday morning (February 1, 2011) at 3 AM, my parents got a phone call from my aunt who lives about 20 minutes away. She said that my uncle Chris (my daddy's brother) never came home from work on Monday night. The last she had heard from him was around 2 PM on Monday. I knew that something was wrong when they left to go find Chris. Let me start from the beginning.
It starts snowing. The snow and ice combination finally hit our area. It's going to be bad, they have already cancelled school.
Mom comes into the living room to tell me that her and Daddy are going to Uncle Chris and Aunt Bambi's house. "It's not...good." She said.
Mom and Dad are both fully dressed and headed out the door. Mom said that she would call and to charge my phone. Dad didn't even look at me. He practically ran out the front door to the car. I knew then that something had happened to either one of my cousins (ages 6 and 3) or to my Uncle Chris.
I'm so wound up that I can't sleep, but I go lay down anyway. I keep thinking to myself that Uncle Chris had died. That was the only explanation that I could give for Dad acting the way he did when he left. Mom sent me a text saying that I needed to get some sleep because, "We are going to need help with the kids tomorrow." I assumed that meant the cousins. That also meant that they were okay. It was my Uncle Chris.
I haven't slept at all. I had been preparing myself for the worst-case scenario. Daddy calls me and asks for my Aunt Revenna and Uncle Cary's phone numbers. "Yes, I'll text them to you as soon as we hang up. What is going on?" The line went silent for about 5 seconds, but it felt like so much longer. "He's gone, Sugar." Daddy replies finally. He only calls me "Sugar" when he knows I'm about to start crying. He was right.
Mom and Dad pull back up into the driveway. By now, I'm fully dressed and ready to walk out the door. I meet Dad at the street and we stand there, in the snow and below freezing temps, and just embrace each other and cry. He tells me that mom is staying here to help with the kids and tells me that he needs me here; so I stay.
Dad finally comes back home from Bambi's house. He tells me that my Uncle Chris locked himself in his office and shot himself in the head. The wind had been knocked out of me for the second time in less than 24 hours and it was all I could do to walk back inside and take my coat off. I stood in the entry way to our house for a good 5 minutes, just leaning on the wall for some support. He had asked me not to tell the little kids, so when they asked, I wasn't able to say anything.
That was one of the hardest days of my entire life. I say "entire" like I've been here a long time. I was so angry at him. I managed to survive when I had issues, why couldn't he?! I still don't understand things. The visitation was last Friday night, and the funeral on Saturday morning.
It has now been a week. Most of the family has returned home, all of the friends (even a close friend who flew in all the way from Pittsburgh) had left. The only family from out of town left here now is Grandma (Daddy and Chris' mom) and she is leaving on Sunday morning.
One of the hardest things that I had to do was go last Sunday evening to the cemetery where Chris was buried. It wasn't hard because I didn't know him. It was hard because his two young children had no idea how great of an uncle he was to me. I am the oldest grandchild on Dad's side, therefore, I was Chris' oldest niece. He taught me how to skate using roller blades when I was 8 or 9. He let me nickname his purple little truck that he had in college "Barney" because I was in love with the stupid purple dinosaur. He had a nickname for me that only he was allowed to call me. I will always be his "Emily from Sicily". He fixed my computer for me every time that it crashed at school and I was a basket case.
Back to Sunday evening...Bambi called Grandma and Daddy and asked if they would like to join her and the kiddos to go to the cemetery to send Daddy (Uncle Chris) some pictures that they had colored for him. Bambi said that anybody else who wanted to go was more than welcome to come. I originally said "no" to the invite. I was ready for the Super Bowl to begin. After giving it some thought, I put on my trusty converse and my leather coat and told Dad that I'd like to come with them. We stopped at Albertson's on the way and Bambi went in and bought 6 balloons. She had the employee who filled the balloons with helium put the pictures from the kids in 3 of the balloons (2 pictures were from the 6 year old, and 1 picture was from the 3 year old). When we got to the grave side, she passed out the balloons. "I need a little boy...and now I need a little girl; you get two balloons because of both of your pictures...I also need a momma [my grandma]...and a big brother [my daddy]." I took pictures leading up to and just after the release of the balloons. One of the best sights ever was watching the kids' faces light up when they couldn't see their balloons any more because then they knew that their daddy had them and that he was looking at the pictures. For obvious reasons, they don't know about the manner in which he died. We all want to protect the memories that they have with him as being a good, loving father, which he was. He put everything into his family. They were the reason that he had survived as long as he had.
Dealing with that and getting this year started off right in other aspects of my life has taken quite the toll on my emotions. I had a slight breakdown last night. I pulled through it because of my closer-than-big-brother-best friend Arturo. I want to say that Brian has helped me through a lot of my emotions. He did, in the beginning of last week, when things were raw and hard; but that has kind of dwindled lately. We are both in a hard spot and we will get over it.
We are hanging out with Grandma tomorrow (later today) before she leaves on Sunday. I need to get some rest.
living_life hurts sometimes.