This past summer I wrote about losing a dear cousin of mine suddenly. I remember everything about the night, the weather, the phone call, the disbelief and… my uncle. When we heard the news of Sharon’s death, my siblings along with my parents rushed over to my aunt and uncle’s house to offer support. My aunt just lost her only daughter but she was not able to share the grief with her husband. My uncle was not fully aware of what was going on, and to observe it was heartbreaking. I never knew for sure if he had dementia or a form of Alzheimer’s. He smiled as company arrived, as if he was so happy to receive visitors, oblivious to the reason they were coming, or the hour they arrived. There were moments that I thought he was beginning to understand. He would look at my aunt and ask “What happened?” Lovingly, she would wrap her arm around his shoulder, stroke his face and look directly into his eyes, “We lost our baby girl.” He lowered his head and muttered a saddened oh and I was sure he had understood, but a few minutes passed and he looked up smiled and ask the question again.
I thought it was both good and bad that he was not fully tuned in. Good because he didn’t have to bear the pain we were all suffering and bad because he had no idea that his daughter had left this world, therefore he couldn’t be there for his wife.
His health started to decline shortly after Sharon’s death and my aunt spent the majority of her time caring for him. Thursday, we received another phone call relaying a dreadful message, Uncle Sam died. In less than a year my aunt had to bury a daughter and a husband and somehow she still has strength that exudes from her soul.
From what I have been told, my uncle received a call as well. A few days before his death, he looked off into an empty space and asked my aunt, “Do you see her.”
My aunt glanced over to where his eyes were focused and asked, “See who?”
My uncle replied, “Sharon.”
For those of us living, death is hard to accept. It is difficult to hear about the passing of a loved one. Thinking about our own death can be fearful. For me, listening to the story of my uncle seeing his daughter days before he died restored my faith and strengthened my beliefs. In life, he was barely aware that his daughter died but recognized her spirit when it was his time to go. We are only passing through this life, when we enter the next, familiar faces will greet us and we will be reunited.