It’s been a tough week.
On March 19 my uncle Jack passed away. He was 71.
Jack and my Aunt Rhonda had been married a long time, but I didn’t really know him until my kids and I stayed with them during our vacation in Colorado Springs in 2015.
They had invited us to visit for years, but my mom had planned to take me and my kids to Colorado the summer she passed away. It took me six years to confront the pain of going to that beautiful state without her.
They were wonderful hosts. I parked my car in their garage when we arrived and I don’t think I took it out again until we left. They slept on the living room floor and gave Sydney, Blake, and I the three bedrooms.
Rhonda took most of the week off so she and Jack could spend it with us. Even when she had to go into work, Jack drove the kids and me around.
During our visit he was hospitable, selfless, attentive, and treated us like he had known us his whole life. I believe I gained an uncle and a friend that week.
Jack and Rhonda helped me heal from six years of pain. Since that first trip I’ve been to Colorado Springs several times and I’ll never go to Colorado without thinking about Mom and Jack and Rhonda.
I hope Jack tells Mom about our trips to Colorado. I think she would enjoy hearing about them.
I felt a connection to Jack that I have rarely experienced. I admired him. I enjoyed him. I liked getting to know him and I loved having discussions because he was ruled by reason. Jack was a deep thinker and I valued his opinions (even when I disagreed) because he had carefully thought them through.
He received a PhD in Sociology from the University of Missouri in 1994. He had many published writings and had asked me to read his current book project before he submitted it. I felt both honored and intimidated at the invitation.
We had running in common, though he completed and succeeded at a much higher level than I ever will. He attended Fort Hays State University and won a national championship in cross country in the 1950s.
I was numb all week until I spent most of my Sunday writing my memories of him for his funeral. That forced me to face reality, accept my grief, and begin the mourning process.
I’m hurting. I struggle to focus, to write, to care, to feel. I’ll always miss him, but like the others in my life that have preceded him in death, the pain will ease and the hurt will heal.
At first I thought I would make it to the funeral. Then it turned out that I couldn’t. I’ll be at his house in May, and I hope I can get the closure then that I missed from not attending his funeral.
I realize that few reading this knew my Uncle Jack. But we all understand the pain of losing loved family members.
Thank you for allowing me to process. I don’t think I could have written about anything else this week. This is the only place my emotional energy will go.