well, i made a grand declaration to blog every day. but the thing about human beings is they think they can control everything. they can lay out plans and everything and everyone will fall in line. because really, when's the last time anyone ever heard of plans blowing up in their face? friday night was a great night, actually. i had received fantastic news regarding my business (which is for another post at another time) the husband has been able to do side work with a friend and had just been paid, and it was friday! the friday before the oscars no less, with a little red netflix envelope teasing us all afternoon. we chomped at the bit to get the kids in bed and the popcorn popped. i put the little one to bed in his crib, gave big hugs and closed the door. i locked eyes with the husband, as he held our biggest in his arms, on his lap, with a book. he said to me "we haven't had a friday this good in months" and i smiled and said "hurry! put him to bed and let's meet on the couch!" i walked into our room, to my work corner. flipped on the lights and plopped into my desk chair. wiggled the mouse and my big bright screen comes to life. a little to the right and let's open bridge. one last scan through a clients album before i upload and...
the moment, and i really mean the absolute time stamp moment i heard my husband call his uncle's name, i knew. you see, whenever anyone in my husband's family talks about Joe it is with such delight, and happiness. but this...this exclamation was heavy and dripping with sadness. before i even walked in the room, i held my heart, barely in my body, terrified to turn the corner. when the corner was behind me and i was left with nothing but the distance between my husband and me, and the look on his face, i knew. i ran to him as he fell apart. held him in my arms as he pressed his cheek harder against the phone, hanging on to every single word his father uttered. "i'm sorry dad. i love you dad" and he hung up. and stared at me. like i was supposed to have the biggest band aid in the world, or as though i was supposed to tell him we were all being tricked. but we weren't. Uncle Joe had passed away. my eyes darted quickly to the bathroom door, where Jack watched as i held his shivering father. i ordered him to his room, to get in bed and turn off the lights. we gathered ourselves up and put him to bed.
a terrible thing has happened. one of the best men i ever knew has died. i know i've talked about my in laws before, and how much i love them, but it hasn't always been so. we all got off to a rocky start. i remember the first time i ever met Joe was at my sister in law's wedding. at the time, husband and i had been dating for about a year and were your typical confused teenagers in love. passionate fights and hard serious love. i remember being so excited that i was able to go to the wedding. i was envious of my husband's family. so big, so many people to love and to be loved by. all the cousins flew in from CA. the cousins that i heard endless stories about, that i had been told i would love and who would love me. but as soon as they all had arrived, something terrible happened. their mother, my husband's aunt, passed away out in CA. while they were all here. but instead of everyone rushing back, everyone stayed for the wedding.
this is when i witnessed the true spirit of my husband's family. and more so, Joe. he had a laugh like no one else. deep and full of life and love. that week was filled with tears, sure, but it was also filled with laughter. his family has a knack for doing this. for just filling each other up with laughter and healing. and Joe was almost always at the center of it. adding to the stories, adding to the laughter. this family comes together in sadness like no other i've seen.
and then, when my husband and i wed amongst drama, Joe flew out. gave me a huge hug. gave chris a huge hug. did nothing but love us and make us feel loved. for that, during that difficult time, i was grateful, and i know it meant the world to my husband.
i only knew Joe for 7 short years. long enough to know his spirit and to know what was important to him. because there are really only three things that mattered to Joe. his family, his faith and the greenbay packers. and so i weep. i weep for this family that has accepted me. i weep for all their heartbreak and long for a way to heal them. i weep for my sons who will never know Joe the way the rest of us did. will never hear his laugh and feel it fill the room and their bodies as we know it did. i weep for my dearest mother and father in law. and in a time of loss we often ask ourselves "what can we do?" because the lack of control makes us feel as though we are spiraling. reaching out our hands in panic, trying desperately to hold onto something that will make it all ok. before anyone said anything about flights or funerals, i knew. i knew everyone would go. because that's what this family does. it rallies together and forms this giant amoeba of healing and love and laughter and stories. i knew we needed to be with the CA arm of the family and i knew they needed us.
fast forward to yesterday. my nephew Henry's baptism day. the husband and i and the two kiddos headed to my brother in law's house to just...gather and be together. and when i walked in, i remembered the mood all over again. just as it had been during wedding week almost 7 years ago. everyone had a purpose and a job. younger siblings were relegated to playing with grandchildren. logistics were left to my sister and her husband, who successfully booked 16 plane tickets for all of us to go out to CA and be with our family.
and then there was me. standing. experiencing a little shell shock. before that moment we had mostly all been separate. experiencing the loss in our own 4 walls. but in that house we were all together and we were all there for a reason and that reason was real now. so what do i do? at a time like this i feel like an outsider. except that now i really know my husband's family and the heartbreak is immense because there are so many more souls that i love. well, i bet you can all guess what i did next. i found the light. and grabbed my camera.
my sister was sitting at a table, iPhone in hand, iPad in front of her. booking flights left and right. and behind her was this light. a little pocket of it. both babies were nearby. so i just sat and snapped away. in the moments of walking into that house it was as though something had brought me clarity. find the light. find the light and show the love that you are surrounded by. share it with your people and heal them. babies sure are great anti-depressants.
on thursday, we head out of town for the services. i am comforted knowing what is waiting on the opposite coast. if pain like this must be endured, i'd want to be with these wonderful people i am so blessed to call my family.
we will honor you Joe. with laughter and tears. with stories and beer and greenbay packer gear. we will celebrate your beautiful life that was a gift to so many people. we love you Joe. deeply and endlessly.