Today’s blog post was supposed to be a review of the new Transformers movie. What I didn’t know when I got up this morning was that my uncle, three miles away, got up this morning and made the decision that it was his last morning. Feeling weak, disoriented, out of control was maybe just too much to handle for a man who has always been in control and has ordered everything in his life right down to the socks in his drawers (which he numbered so the same two socks were always paired together).
So instead of going into the theater to escape reality for three hours, I turned around and headed to the hospital to a reality that seemed less real than what I see on the big screen. My uncle, whose sepia-toned picture in his military uniform my grandmother hangs so proudly on her wall, shot himself to escape. No one knows for sure why. Maybe he didn’t know. That’s the problem with suicide, isn’t it? As the social worker said, we can’t make sense of it because it’s the decision that does not come from reason, from a rational mind.
There’s loss for his siblings and my grandmother. My grandfather passed away last July, which is sort of when we think this decline of my uncle began. At least, that was where our diagnosis led us as those in hospital garb began to ask about his behavior and health over the last year.
There’s also guilt. His sisters and wife knew he was rapidly declining. They tried to help, to get him some help. Now they feel they waited too long, didn’t push hard enough. And they fall apart.
His son, who lives out of state, shares in the guilt. For not realizing how bad things had become. For being out of state.
And everyone dreads telling my grandmother, who had been in and out of depression for two years before my grandfather’s death due to her own declining health.
And as I drive away from the emergency room to pick up my husband and kids, whom I sent into the theater when I got the call, I break down, for my mom, my aunt and uncle, my cousin, my grandmother, my uncle’s wife, and for me. There’s a phase of life where all of your friends and family members are getting married. Then one where they’re all having babies. Then where their babies are all graduating. And then the phase where your family members begin to pass. It’s been three summers in a row. A death each summer.
And I wonder, as I sit at the light, what tragedies the people around me are dealing with. What tragedies await them as they head to the theater or the lake or the restaurant. I wonder when they’ll be the crazy lady sobbing at the stop light.
And I say a prayer, asking God to make sure my uncle finds my grandpa and that my grandpa is able to give him the hug he needed this morning and that my grandmother can no longer give him. God bless you, uncle. I’m so sorry you felt so hopeless. I love you and I’ll miss you.