An uncle in our family committed suicide.  For five years his wife, Aunt Alice, said the same things over and over again to anyone who would listen.  We are a loving family, so we listened and said the same hopefully comforting things back to her again and again.  And after five years she was done and could move on.  I hope it doesn't take five years, but I need to talk about my Uncle Jim and my cousin Paul and probably repeat myself a lot. 

It took a long time to develop my relationship with Uncle Jim.  We never lived close. But when he lived in Dallas my husband Bill taught two week classes there and that was really the beginning.  He wasn't the easiest man to love.  He was the most tactless person I have ever met.  Once, after a 12 hour drive to see him I was greeted with, "Oh, you've put on weight!," the first words out of his mouth.  But having suffered from foot-in-mouth-itis myself, I could be patient with him.  His love for me was evident and, when our marriage went through rough patches, he was there for me.  In his later years, he mellowed, became more openly emotional, showed me movies like "Brave" and "Fly Away Home."  There were things we couldn't talk about because we disagreed violently about them.  So we just didn't discuss them and loved each other anyway.  He had no support system after his wife died and he moved to Atlanta where his son and his family lived.  They were busy with their own lives and, to be fair to them, he occasionally encouraged his son not to drop by or call because Uncle Jim knew they were busy.  So I became his emotional support and, for the last two years was calling him every day to be sure he was okay.  But the calls were special for me, too.  Because for that time I had someone who was interested in all the little details of my days, how many loads of wash I had to do, the latest silly thing the dog did, all the boring things most people don't want to hear.  Though he lived far away, he was entwined in my life.  And he didn't hesitate to tell me he was concerned about me and to take care of myself, to not overdo, things most of the people in my life don't tell me directly, though I know they do worry about me.  It was comforting to be told those things.  Now he's gone, and I know he was ready to go and he had had a long life.  As a person of faith I believe that I will see him again some day.  But in the meantime all the things that he was to me are gone.  I miss him.  I miss his voice.  I miss his hugs.  I miss his little favorite sayings, his habits.  He always had a "toddy" at 8:00 pm, one shot of Wild Turkey.  Is it selfish to miss all that?  or is it honoring his memory?  I'm not sure.

I am sure that none of you are more interested in all of this than my family is, but that's okay.  I just need to say it, and I'm glad to have a safe place to do that.

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Comment by M Adams on January 24, 2020 at 8:31pm

Miriam, thanks for what you’ve said here, think it will be helpful to many other people here and I hope writing it down will help you as well.  What you say about the way you miss your uncle, the loss of rituals and of his expressions of concern for you, really hits home with me.  Having lost my husband and my mother in the last few years has left me with very similar feelings of absence.  Sorry for all you are going through.

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