One hour

What a difference one hour makes.

At a few minutes after 5pm I was leaving the office, on my way home for the long holiday weekend. I had a slight headache so I decided I was going to go home instead of going to the Wildman’s hockey practice. It would be nice to be home alone for a couple hours.

About 10 minutes into my drive my mother called. She wanted to tell me that her older brother, my beloved Uncle Larry, was having chest pains and they had called the ambulance. She was just starting to tell me what she knew about the situation when she had another call coming in from her younger sister, so she got off the call with me to talk to her, promising to call me right back.

I’m not a patient person, and waiting on this kind of news about a loved one while stuck in rush hour, first day of a holiday weekend traffic isn’t easy. While traffic was stopped I decided to look on Facebook to see if any of my cousins had posted anything. See, while Larry is a very special uncle to a total of 6 of us, he’s also a doting father, grandfather and even great-grandfather to a good sized brood as well as big brother to my mother and her sister. He’s the family patriarch and has been since my grandfather passed away in 1984.

His oldest granddaughter had just posted a note saying “it’s not good” and asking for prayers. I called my mom and she was on the way to the hospital, saying he had suffered cardiac arrest. She told me she’d call when she had more news. That was about 35 minutes after I had left the office.

Once I pulled into the drive at my house I was a mess. I couldn’t hold the tears back. I didn’t want to lose my uncle. This world wouldn’t be the same without him. I kept thinking how he always checks in on my mother, who lives alone, and how much he loves everyone of us. He has another great-grandchild due soon, he can’t miss that. I was texting a friend back home in Ohio who knows my uncle very well, she sat next to him at choir practice at church last night. It is times like this that it is very difficult living 6 hours from our hometown where nearly every single other member of the family still lives.

One hour from the time I walked out of the office building, my mother called me back. We have lost him. It was a short call, as she was understandably very upset and I didn’t even have any words to say. I was glad I wasn’t at the hockey rink when I got the news, but being at home alone wasn’t all that great either. I text messaged a couple of friends and my best friend called me to make sure I was okay.

Am I okay? At this very moment, not really. It’s been about one hour since Mom called and I’ve stopped crying, but I know this empty feeling will last for a while. This is the 3rd time in 4 years I’ve lost a loved one. We lost the matriarch of my mother’s family, my Grandma, in 2009, then 8 months later I lost my other beloved Grandma. That was hard, because I’m going to turn 40 later this year and those were my first major losses since Grandpa died when I was 12. This one isn’t any easier. My heart is broken, not just for myself, but for my mom and her sister, my sweet aunt who has lost her husband of nearly 51 years, my cousins who lost their dad (one of whom just turned 50 years old yesterday), their children who have lost the grandpa who has been there for everything in their lives, and the 3 great-granddaughters who adored him. Then there are the nieces and nephews, our children, his co-workers, church family, and a long list of others who’s lives he’s touched over the years.

One hour. That’s the time it took for a huge hole to be left in many, many lives.

I love you Uncle Larry.

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