We see each other. We connect.
I attended my first virtual memorial service yesterday for a man who was like an uncle to me.
It was helpful and moving and offered all that a virtual memorial could, I imagine. I learned things I’d never known about this wonderful man; saw the same qualities and virtues revealed over and over, by those whose lives he touched. He was an amazing father. A wonderful listener.
I learned things about him I’d only had glimpses of. But we all ached, surely, discovering this, each in our own way. It made us want to ask him questions. Have him tell us more. Sit by his side.
He was not a man who talked much about himself. He was someone who shone a light on others, and enjoyed watching them shine. That meant we all enjoyed his company. It also meant we all felt, I’m sure, that we didn’t know him as well as we wished we had. And now he was gone.
He was a man who saw me and accepted me just as I was. He’d come to our house for the holidays, and sit on the couch, always eager to learn more about me and what I was thinking. How I was feeling. He’d ask me and my brother questions about things we actually wanted to talk about. He wanted to see us lit up, inspired. He listened and let us know we were being heard and understood.
In his memorial I learned that he did this for so many people.
And as a result I wonder if many of us are having a similar feeling today. He cared so much about us. He saw each and every one of us. How good that felt. Yet how I wish I had asked more about him.
We all make pacts in grief, I have heard. I will do my best to be there for his son, to connect with him, and to get to know him as well as I can.
I want to ask people more questions about their lives. To provide more spaces where I can do what my uncle did for me. So that I can know more about their lives, as I wish I’d known about his.
I write that, realizing that actually I just want to be more like him. To connect with others around what lights them up; to find ways to invite people to feel seen and heard.
I feel a little less regret with that thought, less burdened by the sadness that I hadn’t asked him enough questions about his life. I realize we share this. We are connected. He taught me a way of being, a way of connecting. And I hope with others, to pass it on.
May you rest in peace, my dear uncle.