Tomorrow one of the finest men I have ever known will be laid to rest. There will be hundreds of people there, I am sure. There will be laughter, tears, and stories. Oh...there will be lots of stories. A new story for him began last Thursday night though...a story up in heaven...I would have given anything to see him walk through those gates. Pure. Joy.
I have been loved well in my life. I have been loved poorly in my life. No one has loved me better than Uncle Odale. He stole my heart as a little girl, and when that little girl came back into his life as an adult in search of healing...well, he grabbed me up without missing a beat and loved me well. Well.
There are stories between the two of us that I will take to my grave. We trusted each other.
A couple of years ago, he got very sick; he and I got to spend a lot of concentrated time together. In some ways, the two of us said our good-byes then...it was a miracle it seemed that he came back from that. During those two weeks, we played a lot of dominoes, watched a lot of the funniest home video show, I took a lot of photos, and we went back over many of the stories that I had recorded him a few years earlier...saving them for the future. I wanted to always be able to hear his voice, his laughter. I knew someday this day was going to come, and I knew that I wouldn't be able to listen to them at first, but that someday...I would want them...need them. I had learned that from my cousin Corky. Bless her for sharing that lesson with me...via Aunt Obedia...and the promise I worked to keep to Aunt Obedia. That promise led to the lesson...and now I sit here faced with a future of nothing but those recordings, and my heart is shattered.
Over the past few days as the news continues to sink in, the memories and words spoken between us come in waves. I am in shock.
The photo above and some items he gave me sit on my desk at the office...have for years. When I got back into town last week after hearing the news, my eyes went to this photo and items he made for me with his hands....and I wished so much to go back to 2004 and be inside of this photo hugging him. You can't go back though....and grief takes us out like a sword to the heart. It takes me out. I feel like I am in the middle of re-living every good-bye in my life, every death, and every lost opportunity to spend one more minute with somebody...anybody. Guilt will kill you.
Then today, someone sent me a text message to check on me...to check on my heart. Their words reminded me of how much I loved Uncle Odale...and how much he loved me...and that really is the point. He loved me well. I loved him well. Someday, I will see him again. Until then, the best way to honor the love he gave me, the life he lived, is for me to love others well.
This grief will pass....and as, and when, it does...the love will remain. That I know. That is what I am working to hold onto....Love.
Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)