Monday, May 19, 2014

A Tale of Two Uncles - Past and Present

It has been a strange weekend of waiting, worrying, and reminiscing, spent mostly at the hospital by my uncle's bedside. And while the mood was generally sombre, there was also laughter and mirth mixed in, as the family reconnected over the mutual bond of what are likely the final days of an uncle, a father, a brother, a husband, a godfather, and a friend to many - a central support pillar in our respective networks.

The jumble of emotions and how we are supposed to feel and act at this time is confusing - sadness and despair, mixed in amongst happy memories of a man who did so much to bring us joy throughout the years. Equally as confusing, I have trouble reconciling the two divergent images I have of my uncle. On the one hand, his frail and failing body lays in the hospital, struggling for breath, fighting off the sleep that lengthens between each period of wakeful lucidity. And on the other, my mind is flooded with memories of a jovial, strong, energetic, and eternally smiling man, who would find ways to crack jokes about everything and make you laugh.

I did see a connection between these two past and present portraits of my uncle this weekend though: despite being gravely ill, he still smiled and cracked a couple jokes, serving to remind us that though his body was broken, his spirit was not. While he is the one who currently needs comfort, he spent his energy comforting us, telling us not to weep for him, and that everything would be okay. That is the measure of a man who has bravely made peace with his situation, and his words have convinced me that we must soldier on with our lives, even in the darkness of a looming loss.

The Eternally Smiling Uncle
An image of my uncle from last year, smiling while preparing food - two things I most associated with him.

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