In case you were wondering, our vacation was great! We had a blast at Sea World and managed to not lose any of our 4 children and none of them (nor us) were sunburned by the end of the trip despite the 105 degree weather. It looks like we found somewhere to do mini-vacations for the next year which will put our free vacation passes to good use. We even managed the long car ride down there without any vomiting. YIPEE!
On our way back home we received horrible news. My sister called to tell me that my Uncle Kenny had been murdered. This is one of my parents' nine brothers - the youngest brother on my dad's side. In the beginning, all we knew was that he was murdered on vacation oversees. As the night progressed we quickly learned more. I'm not going to go into the details in part because none of us know exactly how it all happened, but we know enough to know that it wasn't a completely random act of violence. It was a crime of passion. I'd like to think most murders are senseless and unnecesary, but this is certainly one of them.
Our family is devastated to learn of my uncle's death, particularly given the circumstances. It makes it much more difficult in that it happened on the other side of the globe and no one involved is familiar with that country's legal system and furthermore, it's just plain far away. Though the officials have been generous in talking with the family as much as they can, it's still difficult to get the answers the family is looking for if for no other reason than the time difference.
Truthfully, "answers" won't make it better. Maybe it will help fill in some of the details of how this came about for some and for others might bring a sense of closure, but none of it will bring him back. None of those answers will help turn back time and make this all go away. We'll all have to process that over time. Hopefully we can all come to peace somehow with his death and trust that God's justice will be served.
I haven't really been able to process it. I've teared up a bit but I haven't cried. In part because I always have my kids around and though I'm not afraid to cry in front of them I also felt the need to be strong until I had more details. Weird I know. I needed to process how I explain this to them. I didn't want to take away from our good vacation and leave this memory in their hearts - associating Sea World with his death and all. I'll break down soon I'm sure.
One of the things my family is trying to do is honor his memory by living well including making good life choices and moving forward in enjoying life to its fullest. I had planned to take our oldest son Logie to the water park on Friday because he had to put off a lot of "big boy" things because we had the babies at Sea World - we continued with that trip. My nephews birthday was on Friday as well and my parents had planned a big beach trip for them and some other family - they went forward with that celebration. Life needs to be celebrated and though we may need to take time to mourn he would have also wanted people to enjoy their life. I'm confident that he would have wanted us to spend time with our son at the water park that day and that he would have supported my dad taking his grandson to the beach. Our hearts our sad but one of the best ways to honor his memory is to continue to live even though, or especially because, he can't.
Then there are those that are struggling with or recovering from substance abuse. Thankfully, I never walked that path. I've never even tasted alcohol. My Uncle died on his 21st birthday - his sobriety birthday that is. Sobriety is something he and my dad shared. My dad took his 25th cake on Christmas last year. The last communication from my uncle was a post to facebook with his 21st chip - because of the time difference when I woke up he had already had the chance to attend a meeting to take a cake on his birthday. Actually, by the time I woke up he had already died. I mourn the opportunity to have congratulated him for his 21st birthday - but I have to realize that I didn't have the chance. So, in his honor, donations are being made to Alcoholics Anonymous, the organization he supported and supported him in achieving and maintaining sobriety. In his memory - can you take a moment to pray for those who are still suffering with alcoholism or substance abuse?
Social media has been amazing as it was when my dad was injured. Thankfully, the family knew before the word was out on social media, which has been a blessing. We were able to connect and talk and grieve together though many of us are spread apart. We were able to do so in a private forum which is quite important in this type of a situation where we want to be able to be a family and talk as a family without worrying about the media (this is a media heavy story...). We were able to create a memorial site to spread the word to extended family and friend who we wouldn't have otherwise known to contact and, maybe even more importantly we were able to ask them to share their memories and now have quite the collection of stories of people and the ways my uncle touched their lives in a positive way - things we would have never known about. This has really helped in our grief.
We will again be traveling soon to attend a family service out-of-state. I'm grateful I can go. This will be complicated with the less-permanent placement I have but I'll figure it out. It is very important to me that I can go and my family is as together as it can be. There will be a gaping hole, but we will try to honor his life as best we can.
I had the opportunity this weekend to get together with a cousin of mine who is like a brother to me but I haven't seen, that I can remember, since I moved away from my family 7 years ago. It was so good to see him and I'm glad we made it happen and that one of my best friends happily watched my youngest kiddos so we could go catch up late into the night. I'm glad she doesn't hate me that I was really late. I hope we can catch up more when we go to the service and we have more family there. I'm really looking forward to this as it is way overdue. I wish it were under better circumstances.
My request of you all today is to call the folks you love and tell them you love them. When you say goodbye to folks, remember that it very well might be the last time. Don't live in fear - enjoy life - but try to be cognizant of mortality on Earth and the fleeting nature of natural life.