On Loss

Laugh or cry

Rhino lays on his belly atop the comforter, leafing his way through, until he encounters a headline that brings the chuckle

Papa

he shares his favourites

Recently opened Empire State Building ‘Giant Ape-Proof’, Say Architects

Women Get Vote, Rest Rooms

Carter to Congress: What’s Your 20, Good Buddy?

It’s a fun stage when your kid starts to get the jokes.


My Auntie would share with me just how much my Uncle loved Our Dumb Century.

I hear him all the time, chuckling away down there, even when he’s in the bathroom

When I remember him, it’s the chuckling that stands out.

He and Captain Flyswatter would sit together, apart from the crowd and cocktail noise. Cracking wise at every opportunity, inevitably punctuated by a wheezy, extended guffaw.

Our very own Statler and Waldorf, peas in a pod, yukking it up.

They must have been in their 50s at the time

Wait

That’s where I’m at now

I loved that role, wanted to be like them. Finding humour in the absurdity of it all. So I tried it on, making bad jokes, throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what would stick. Cracking (not-so) wise.

And soon, it was my turn to cackle, together with him.

Nobody gets my jokes

But he did.

Satire, I think, just was a fit for my uncle.

How else does anyone make sense of a world that can bring so much joy, and so much pain

A world where hardship lands indiscriminately

disproportionally


Laugh or cry

Ask any parent

What’s the worst thing in the world?

And topping their list, without a doubt

losing my child

Well, Dear Reader.

He lost two.

He was circumspect and reflective at his elder son’s funeral, unafraid to call out injustice, trying to make sense of it all. His elder and (to that point) surviving son, a grown man, finally giving in to cancer after the bravest of fights.

How could this happen twice

I stood, graveside, listening to last rites, my own boy snuggled in against my chest. And perhaps because he was there too, lost myself to grief. Tears, without end.

Two funerals for lost sons is, ultimately

two too many


I’m not here to raise existential questions

Those ones generally raise themselves

Here is what I know.

There is suffering in this world. For some, more so than others. It is uneven, arbitrary.

And, also, thank the universe,

impermanent.

I don’t know whether this offers consolation.

I know that losing two sons, suffering with cancer, then struggling to digest a meal near the end of it all

is, uh, a lot to deal with.

I know there were still moments of joy. His resilient daughter-in-law and vibrant grandchildren carrying the family legacy, jaunts to Loreto bringing sunshine and warmth.

My aunt, his forever partner, his rock, a saint who endured so much more than any soul deserves.

If sainthood were a thing, she’d be first on the list.

Resilient

Exhausted

Determined, to the last.

She’s one of our heroes.

And, I miss him already.


Laugh or cry

His younger son’s funeral is foggier to me

But I do remember being caught in nervous energy

In the car, on the way to the cemetery, I was giggling uncontrollably, my cousin joining in the fun

I knew that somehow it wasn’t appropriate, didn’t befit the mood, but I just couldn’t reign it in.

What’s the right way to grieve?

And if we get extra practice does that make it any easier?


I wake up tonight with dreams so real that that they chase me.

I am home

There is a drawn out and tender hug

Peaches and Herb are there

Reunited and it feels so good

I hug them back.

And the dream, just like those who matter to me, holds me close

I wake sobbing, just a bit

Acutely aware of the tenderness of it all

Of how quickly it can pass


So,

Live.

Surround yourself with good humans

Leave the place better than you found it

And keep breathing.

It’s a privilege, not a right


As I listen to my boy, giggling as he gets the joke

I hear my uncle’s gentle, joyful, wheezy laughter sneaking up the stairs for my Auntie to savour

Laugh or cry

Dear Reader,

if you don’t mind

Today I’ll be doing a bit of both

Published by Radutti

Teaching in Ha Noi, screwing things up daily but surviving to write about it. ...everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

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2 Comments

  1. Oh, Radutti, what a beautiful fun and sad tribute to your uncle. Peace be with you as you mourn and laugh. So much truth here, but today I was struck with this one:
    “There is suffering in this world. For some, more so than others. It is uneven, arbitrary.”

    Liked by 1 person

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