A picture of footprints in the sand in the desert

It was 11 p.m. I sat in the chair looking out the window. My husband turned to me and said, “Deep down inside, you will always be that little girl waiting for your uncle to come won’t you?”

He was absolutely right. He was a man of his word, albeit—never really great with time. I’ve spent countless evenings as a kid waiting up for him. Whether he had promised that we were going to Coney Island or that we were going on a trip to the park, I knew he wouldn’t let me down. No matter how long, I waited for him in the window—forehead pressed against the child guard. No matter how late it got, I knew he would show.

I’ve spent countless evenings as a kid waiting up for him.

That night was no different. 

My uncle and I shared many adventures. He was one of my best friends. Our first adventure was one he was never really able to live down. My mom reminded him of it every chance she got. When I was 6 months old, my uncle asked my mom if he could take me to the mall. We returned later that day with my ears pierced, and like the ear piercings, he has been there for the biggest moments of my life.

He was the balance I needed when I was a child and as an adult. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t speak about, and I knew when I was wrong. He had this way of tilting his head and looking at me with a side-eye and half-smile seemingly asking me a question, but the question was never really a question. It was more of a statement of what I should do posed as a question that allowed me to feel like I came up with the answer.

My uncle was a superhero. I was sure this time it would be my turn to rescue him. I desperately wanted to be there waiting to welcome him home after he won his battle against COVID-19. That day would never come.

My uncle was a superhero. I was sure this time it would be my turn to rescue him.

COVID-19 has affected us all, impacting our lives in so many ways. The anxiety of not knowing what the future holds for us and how we will mend the wounds this pandemic has caused can feel crippling. In the matter of two weeks, my family experienced the devastating loss of four family members. It’s easy to fall into the abyss of sadness, but every day, I remind myself that remaining strong is the only option. I must live a life of gratitude that I am only able to fulfill because of those who loved me and poured selflessly into my cup.

For the longest time, I’ve grappled with trying to figure out when it would be OK for me to resume with life. I’ve wrestled with whether or not I would feel less guilty about experiencing a moment of peace or joy while I was supposed to be grieving. Trying to comfort everyone around me and find moments to allow my tears to fall as well. I don’t think there will ever come a time when I stop missing them, and I hope they continue to live in my thoughts forever. More importantly, I hope they know everything I do will be in memory of them. 

It’s hard to accept I won’t spend another evening waiting in the window for him, but I find comfort in knowing that they are all still here with me, helping to guide the way. I dedicate this to those we will love for an eternity, in this realm and thereafter.

Have you lost someone you love recently? How do you choose to remember and celebrate them?

Image via Taylor Butters

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