My dad has one brother, his name is Rich, and he’s gay. He and his partner Ron have been together since I was in the third grade, and I can’t believe it, but that’s almost twenty years. Eleven years ago, he and Ron adopted a little girl named Danielle after she was born, and four years ago they adopted her half sister Kelsey. A lot of people might not (and haven’t) agree with that, but I have always thought of it as brave, and loving. They’re a family, and they are my family.
Last week, Ron had a stroke. I had just seen him, two weeks ago, and we were laughing and playing endless card games. He was telling Molly and I about Nicki Minaj, making silly jokes, and winking at me during dice. I have known him most of my life, and we used to joke he was “Aunt Ron” to our Uncle Richie. Him having a stroke doesn’t fit into the plans, with two little girls to raise, and with our Grandpa gone…Ron couldn’t have a stroke. Not three weeks after that.
I told myself that people don’t die from a stroke very often. Certainly not after I just saw them, and certainly not after I hugged them goodbye laughing about their bullshitting skills. He was labeled as being in “critical” condition, but people come back from that all the time. I told myself that God wouldn’t let this happen to our family again so soon, especially to Richie, who had just lost his father.
I can tell myself anything I want apparently, because I found out this morning that he did die. Ron died, two weeks after I saw him, and I am having the hardest time processing that.
It almost hurts worse this time. With my Grandpa, we knew it was coming eventually, and there was some measure of comfort in being able to say goodbye this summer. Hoping I’d see him next year, but knowing I had to be okay if I didn’t. This hurts in a much different way, because Ron is around my dad’s age, because I didn’t have time to prepare for this loss. This loss that so many people have felt, where the rug is swept out from under you and you’re expected to move forward and deal anyway. I am new to this kind of loss, and having it be three weeks from my last (first) loss, I just can’t….process.
And then comes the fresh pain. Knowing my two cousins aren’t old enough to understand that this is what life has dealt, and that it’s absolutely unfair their “Dad Ron” isn’t around anymore, but this is how the Universe wanted it. How are they supposed to understand that, and cope with having two parents and now only one? I can only imagine the replaying of last conversations in their head. The blame, the despair, and the years that are going to come with their own waves of pain. I know this happens every day, I know it, and it breaks my heart because this is my family. It makes me want to scoop up everyone I love, and frantically shake them until they understand the depth of love I have for them.
The ripples of sadness and pain currently moving through my family, it’s crushing.
I hope this is all the Universe wants to throw at us for awhile, because I have exceeded my limits of “coping” this month.