Saturday, April 30, 2011

It never goes away...

Recently I've had some friends lose family members. It's always sad when someone you love passes away, and we all deal with it differently... but one thing remains the same - while the grief and pain fade over time, it never really goes away. You never really stop missing the ones you lose, even years or decades later.

My Grandpa Vern passed away when I was a teenager. I still miss him. When he first passed I cried for days. Months afterward the pangs of grief were still fresh. Even now, many years after his passing, I still mourn the loss. He will never meet my children. He never saw me graduate. But I was able to say goodbye to him; I was able to make sure he knew how much I loved him.

On the other hand, I never got to say goodbye to my Uncle Lee. I was never able to let him know how much he meant to me... how much I loved him. I've talked a little about Lee before on the old blog and I can't remember if I've said much about him here. I don't have the time or energy to chronicle our long and complex history, but I will say this: he was as influential in my life as my parents were, and he died about a year and a half before Bryan and I got married.

So it's not like his passing is "new" but it still hurts. Some days more than others. The other day on my way to work, this song played on my iPod and I cried the whole way through. For those who don't wish to click on the link, it's Billy Joel's She's Always a Woman. It may seem like an odd song to remind one of your gay uncle, but Lee once told me that whenever he heard that song he thought of me. Which can be seen as both very complimentary and not quite so complimentary depending on how you interpret the song.

I like to think of it as a compliment. Mostly.

Regardless, the song is now forever linked in my mind with my Uncle. And when it played the other day the intensity of my grief shocked me. After all, it's been years.

The ache, the sadness, the pain - it fades. But it never disappears. After awhile, like the grief I still carry from my grandfather's passing, it becomes comforting. Which I admit sounds strange... but the memory of him, tinged with sadness, makes me both wistful and happy. Happy to have had the time I did, and happy to have loved someone so very much (and to be loved back) that even after all this time I still miss them. If he had never loved me or I had never loved him, then I wouldn't still find myself tearing up when I listen to certain songs or look at old pictures.

I'm very lucky even though right now, I'm also very sad.

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