One can never be ready for dealing with the death of a loved one... After the sudden passing of my uncle, I cancelled all plans and booked a flight from Long Beach straight to New York. It seemed the universe wanted me to be in New York to take care of the formal proceedings following the lost of my uncle. By random chance, my cousin from France arrived the same day as I did for the viewing of my uncle's dead body. She had booked her ticket months in advanced for a vacation with her partner. The timing of it all seemed too much of a coincidence.
Sometimes it seems as if the universe has its course that it wants to take us on for reasons unknown until we are willing to stop resisting, start listening and begin following...
I won't lie. Part of this situation tripped me out. I felt like I was re-living the past. Back story is that in 1996, my older uncle passed away of a heart attack. At that time, my father had taken a last minute flight to NYC to handle the formal death proceedings of his brother-in-law. Much of my life course parallels my father's and this situation is one of many similar scenarios. Fast forward to 2015, the younger brother-in-law has died of the same cause around the same age; only this time it's my turn to take over the responsibility. Maybe in some crazy way there's a reason my life seems to parallel my dad's so much...
Once I arrived to New York, I went straight to the hospital in Queens and started to piece together my uncle's last moments of life. My uncle's story was hard for me to swallow. He was 55 and had heart failure. Never finished college. Never married and had no children. He lived in a small apartment in Queens with his nephew (my cousin). At the time of his death, my cousin was at work. It seemed as if my uncle had a heart attack and collapsed outside on his way to the hospital. The ambulance picked him up blocks away from his apartment. He must had felt some chest pain and was making his way to get care. I realized that my uncle had died alone.
How do I explain the sadness I felt? I'm sure it's easy to imagine and empathize with me. However, through it all... I must say, I feel very privileged to have been a big part of this process for my uncle. Through this process... I find that I've become a better person and have found some sort of solace within myself.
THE LESSONS: Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
1. FORGIVENESS: My biggest regret in life up until this point had been that I wasn't there for my grandmother to let her know I cared for her before she passed. Through this situation, I've gained a sense of redemption by seeing my uncle's cremation process through until the end. Holding on to negative feelings are only blockades to our growth with ourselves and with others. We all deserve forgiveness.
2. TRUE STRENGTH: I've learned that strength isn't being hard and tough all the time... sometimes it's being GENTLE during those hard tough times. Sometimes I just wanted to shut people out... Sometimes it's easier, but that wouldn't have helped anything. Staying strong meant looking everyone sincerely in the eyes, listening to them and being kind during moments I wanted to shut down or lash out. I won't lie. I had my moments... but overall I'm proud of how I've handled everything. I felt I stayed true to a heart of gold.
3. THE INFINITE LOOP OF EXCELLENCE: I've learned through my uncle's life and death and how it all went down that being stubborn, overly prideful and afraid of allowing others to help can lead to lonely road. My uncle was too prideful to accept our help and refused to get treated because he was afraid. This experience has helped me realize the last part that closes this loop of excellence. I believe it goes... "Treat yourself excellent - Be excellent to others - AND ALSO LET OTHERS BE EXCELLENT TO YOU."
4: AFFIRMATION FOR THE BEAUTY OF HUMANITY: This process of seeing my uncle's life off has been stressful. The lack of finances, lack of understanding and lack of experience has been some of the many obstacles. Although, there have been some assholes I've come across, overall, the goodness of people's hearts have poured out for my uncle and his nephew (my cousin who lived with him). Goodness has come in the forms of family members, friends, and strangers. I couldn't have done any of this without the help of everyone. Given the right environment, people are all well intended by nature. It's been such a blessing to experience the beauty of humanity.
5: THE GLASS IS NOT HALF FULL NOR HALF EMPTY. JUST LOOK AT IT AS SIMPLY... A GLASS: The loss of a loved one is sad and sometimes it makes us wonder why the universe is so crazy. However, we can't be pessimistic nor overly optimistic. Life simply just... IS... It's up to you to decide what you want to do with it. You have a glass... and you have a choice. Are you going to stare at it and complain? Are you going to be just content with where the water level is at? Or are you going to figure out how to fill up your cup of life?