The Day That Went


So lots of things matter more than the character and/or soul of a desk.

I don’t know what is official, but at the last word, my uncle in Minnesota who has been hospitalized for well over a month, possibly verging on two, is with the chaplain now.  Something to do with gangrene of the stomach, something that moved impossibly fast, faster than any of us, slow-moving, deep-hoping people know how to catch up with.  My father had been planning to head up there on the 20th with my half-sister to see how things were going.  It feels like a terrible deja vu of a year ago when my grandmother’s illness suddenly became terminal.  And now, her son, my uncle, my father’s brother.

It’s hard to let the feeling in because I want to judge its consistency, its size, whether I am being maudlin or cold-hearted.

We didn’t know him all that well.  He was, as I mentioned, my father’s brother, my grandmother’s son far before he was ever our uncle.  Not in the way my aunt on my mother’s side was.  Not in the way I think most uncles are.  He was quiet, self-contained, and his losses he suffered in his own head even while he had a caring host around him.  He never sent a card or a present to us as kids, he was just included with my grandparents, a third, silent partner in running the farm.

It was only when I got the chance to go up to the farm a few times in recent years that I saw, perhaps, how fragile he was.  His clever and creative side, the middle child lost in that middle.  This is hard to see in gruff, abrupt phrases behind endless cups of coffee, but I thought I did.  It might have been projection, but I don’t think so.  Not entirely.

Not too many days ago, my father had mentioned that we could use an online site to write something to him while he was in the hospital and I thought to myself that I should do that.  I should really do that.  But I didn’t.  I forgot and the messages coming from my cousin were so up and down that it never seemed like the right time.   It’s not like he knew me.  I just think that if he were like me in the ways I think he might have been, then, he would have appreciated someone taking the time to reach out.  He would have really needed, a thousand times along the way, but especially now, someone to say I see you.  I see your loss and your sorrow and your physical hurt and I am so sorry for what you’re having to endure.  Maybe he had my father for that, a thousand miles away, but there are lonely paths and then there are lonely paths.  How many times have I muttered to the universe – if only someone would bother to see me in my hurt and vulnerability, how much better I would feel, how validated and human and not this gaslit, oozing, sobbing thing.  And failing that, as the universe doesn’t traffic in teleportation, there would be food.   Just as he had his drink.

Already in past tense.  God, that makes me angry.

It shouldn’t have happened.  I mean, who knows why it did, and my father is being just like he was with his mother, so dutiful and organized and putting on the mantle of just taking care of everything.  He’s flying up there in the morning to be with my grandfather and I hope, I don’t even know what I hope.

It’s just awful.

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