Rending of the Universe   Leave a comment

In all my talk about this memorial page I’m trying to put together for our newsletter, one has gathered (if one has been paying any attention at all!) that there has been a lot of death that has touched my life in the past year or so.

Some of it was to be expected.  My Uncle Nelson (my dad’s oldest brother) and his wife Pauline both passed away in 2007.  Uncle Nelson was the last of my father’s siblings to die, so now all six of them are deceased.  Uncle Nelson and Aunt Pauline were in their early 90s.  A ripe old age to die!  Aunt Jo, my dad’s brother Charles’s widow, was in her 80s when she died in February.  Uncle Mort, my dad’s sister’s widower, was 89 when he died in August 2006.  I think he is missed most of all because of his gentle, loving ways, always putting his family and loved ones first in his life.  His two daughters, in their late 50s/early 60s, grieve his death intensely because he was such a daily part of their lives.  However, Uncle Mort had a long, rewarding life in this world, and death is inevitable.

Sonny’s death in February of 2007 hit me hard.  I’ve known Sonny my entire married life.  He was my husband’s brother-in-law’s brother-in-law.  (In words, Dale’s sister is Sharon.  Sharon is married to Roy.  Roy’s sister is Lorraine, and Lorraine was married to Sonny.)  In sounds like a “shirt-tail” relationship when phrased that way — an in-law of an in-law — but in reality, Dale and I and Sonny and Lorraine are aunt and uncle to the same trio of two nieces and a nephew: Sharon and Roy’s kids.  We’ve spent just about every major holiday and celebration together that has been held at Sharon and Roy’s house over the years, and Sonny and I were close.  He was active and vital, extensively involved in his local VFW as a retired Marine and in community activities.  He was the life of any get-together!  To look at him at the last Christmas Eve he and Lorraine spent at Sharon and Roy’s, one would never guess he was a man in his 70s.  He looked an acted a good ten years younger.

He seemed healthy and robust at the Christmas Eve celebration in 2005.  In late winter of 2006, he was diagnosed with a melanoma on his neck that had infiltrated all his lymph nodes in the area.  He was never well again and died in February 2007 after a year of literally wasting away.  That was so hard!  His presence is felt greatly everytime the family gets together now, and we all miss him.

But nothing — absolutely NOTHING — is as bitter and painful as my local LiveJournal friend, Rob, taking his own life in March.  Rob had had a longstanding history of depression and substances abuse issues, but to all appearances, he was turning his life around.  He had been sober for a couple of years and very active in AA, MA, and other organizations here in the Twin Cities dealing with chemical addictions.  He was a leader in those communities, drawing people to himself with his charisma, his compassion, his beautifully crafted written words, his hospitality.  Many people loved him.    An infant son came into his life on January 31, 2007, an event that was not planned, and Rob’s relationship with his son’s mother was a strained one, but he seemed joyful about his son’s birth when the lad finally arrived.  All of us were hopeful that Rob’s life would find even deeper meaning with the birth of his son.

On March 24, at the age of 42, he committed suicide with a combination of pills and liquor.  This was no accident.  We found out later that it was actually his second attempt in a week, the first having been unsuccessful.  He left letters to a couple of his closest friends, saying that he knew his death would hurt them but they’d get over it.

I attended the memorial service in Minneapolis on March 31, and I have never seen such a standing-room-only in a funeral home.  The large room was packed, they were bringing in more chairs, the hallway and foyer were filled.  Rob had touched so many lives, yet he considered his own not worth living!  The pain, the grief, the confusion, the anger among his friends has been incredible this past year.  It’s been very distressing to endure and behold.

Last night, I found the photos I had printed of Rob just after his death and was choosing what I wanted to use for the memorial page.  I stood in the study last night, transfixed, staring down at my collection of a dozen photos, and my heart ached.  Why, Rob?  Why could you not let those who loved you help you?  There is such a bottled-up feeling of impotent frustration and anger accompanying this situation, a intense longing for a second-chance to see the things we missed, to somehow go back and avert this tragedy, to take another run at this and make it right — all of those things that are impossible to do!

There is no way to make this right.  No way to repair this rending of the Universe that wasn’t meant to be.  Instead, we must get on with the impossible task of living our lives without Rob, something that shouldn’t have come to pass in this time and place.

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Posted January 19, 2008 by StPaulieGrrl in Family of Origin

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