That’s what I kept saying to myself today as we drove to the funeral home.
But it is real. I’ve never had anyone really close to me die before, and my uncle was more like a grandpa to me. From the first face I saw (my cousin’s) to my final glance at his coffin, I cried.
All week long I had distanced myself. I had focused on Christmas, avoided thinking about it, pushed it out of my head, only crying when my brain stopped long enough to picture his face.
Today, I kept coming back to two things:
1. An image of him sitting in his favorite recliner in a white t-shirt, his pants, and his slippers. When I lived with my aunt and uncle in college, this is how I saw him at least once a day, and it’s burned into my mind.
2. His laugh. He had this almost hissing chuckle that just swam with mischief, and I can hear it every time I think about him.
My uncle had the kindest face and he was both an amazingly strong and amazingly caring man. My mom said when I was little I had him wrapped around my little finger, and when my dad said “no,” I’d go running to Uncle Melvin.
When I was a teenager and we’d visit, I’d sleep on the couch. I was greeted every morning by the smell of the coffee he put on when he got up early. He and my aunt used to watch soap operas after dinner. He did this Donald Duck type noise anytime he played with kids; I’ll never forget it.
He served in the military for the first half of his adult life, and worked as maintenance in a high school for the other half. He loved and was loved by many people. I am only one of them.
Tonight I remember Uncle Melvin. He was someone worth stopping for.