February 27, 2013

empty chairs at empty tables

Death has been way too prevalent of a theme in my life lately. I am lucky enough that I never really experienced the passing of someone I was close to prior to this year. My grandfather passed away when I was nine, but I think that because I was so young, I didn't understand how sad it was. I knew that my father lost his father, now I realize that there's nothing more that can make my heart ache than thinking of existing in a world without my siblings or parents. I understand how tragic that loss was for him now, but when it happened, I think I was too young to grasp it. 

I've been thinking about death a lot lately because of the passing of my Uncle Tony. To know Uncle Tony was to love him. Sometimes I forget that he is gone. I think about going to California, going into his restaurant, saying hello and receiving the biggest hug/kiss combination, then I realize that he's gone. I realize that his physical body now resides in a cemetery near my home and that if I want to visit him, that's where I'll go. Sometimes I forget about his passing until I see the mass card in my wallet. It's there to remind me to live a life of love and giving, just like Uncle Tony. It's there to remind me of how important family is, and how I need to take every opportunity to let people know that I love them. 

I'm not sure that I've talked about my Uncle John as much, but he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer the summer before I moved to Korea. We were told that the cancer was so aggressive that things would be over shortly. I saw him before I left for Korea and I felt like that was the final goodbye. He held on and I was able to see him when I came home from Korea. Seeing him provided a physical representation of the deterioration that I knew was occurring. He was sick. I saw him in the summer and as I said goodbye, part of my heart knew that that was the last time I'd see him. I was able to see him twice over Christmas break and unfortunately he looked worse than I imagine. He was frail, he was weak, and you could tell the chemotherapy had done a number on him. He just seemed exhausted. He's been holding on, but I think just long enough to get his wife settled. His wife, my Aunt Gail, had a five brain aneurysms seven years ago and was left without the ability to care for herself. Since then, Uncle John has been her caretaker. He's been so gentle, tenderhearted, and good with her. He has loved her with a truly selfless love, one that is beautiful and whole. 

I got a text message from my brother earlier this week telling me that my father was having a hard time. It had been exactly a month since Uncle Tony had passed and Uncle John was doing so poorly. They anticipate Uncle John passing within the next week. Isn't that just the craziest thing to hear? One minute he'll be here, and the next he'll be gone. His passing is tragic, it's been a slow and painful road for him and his family, but the passing of Uncle Tony has been equally as tragic as it was shocking and completely caught everyone off guard. 

I honestly don't know how I or my family would cope with this all if it weren't for our faith in the Lord. I don't want to be preachy, but as a Christian, I know that death is not the end for me or my loved ones. I know that our lives have been redeemed and that death will not separate us from each other or from God. My heart is broken as I've had to say goodbye to too many people lately, but knowing that the goodbye is temporary has helped me greatly. 


  1. I hope things get smoother for your family soon. Death is always the hardest thing, but you'll get through it all. Sending you good vibes :)

  2. amen sister, its not goodbye, just see you later.

    Loved what you shared about your uncle & aunts love. What a great testimony to how life should be lived! Thanks!

  3. Jess,
    I am so sorry for the huge amounts of loss that you and your family have gone through these past few months. I pray that God is showering you guys with his comfort, his peace, his love and his protection. Death is such a hard thing to deal with, but knowing that we'll be in heaven after this life is so awesome!!

    I know I'm a few weeks late on this, but I hope you're doing better!


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