So about a week ago I got a text from my dad that my Uncle Paul died. Just out of the blue – your Uncle Paul died today. While this would be distressing anyway so close after my grandma’s death, it was particularly distressing given that my Uncle Paul was my dad’s youngest brother – 11 years younger. He was 43 years old when he died, and we still don’t know why. I won’t pretend that I was as close to my uncle as I was to my grandmother; he was sort of awkwardly older than me in that way that as I was growing up he was in his late teens/early 20s and living his own life. I think he was barely a teenager when I was born, actually. So my memories of him are somewhat spotty, although I remember him at family functions, and he was always very nice and interested in what was going on in my life. I have vague memories of him playing with me as a baby, and there is a picture of him pushing me around in a diaper box as a toddler with me squealing in delight, and I do remember that. My dad said he and my Uncle Tim would do that until they dropped, although of course I wanted more. And when I was remembering my delighted baby squeal and associated stories is when I started to get really angry. Everyone who has ever learned anything about grief knows that one of the famous DABDA A’s is anger, and let me tell you, it comes on in full force where death-associated grief is concerned. You see, my Uncle Paul really loved kids, and he came by that honestly – it seems to be a feature of Crapo/Crepeau men. This is not gross or perverted love of children, this is genuine joy because you made a child happy and want that child to continue being happy. I see it in my grandfather who constantly wants me to bring the kids over even for a few minutes so he can give them “five”; hence my children call him Papa 5 which distinguishes him from Papa, my dad. I see it in my dad in the way he treated my brother as a baby, the way he loves to be around babies, any baby and they all flock to him like he’s the Pied Piper or something, and the way he defends them in his law and adoption practice. My Uncle Paul came from good stock where children are concerned, and he left behind a son and a 6 month old grandson. This little baby has no idea what he has lost in a grandfather, but I do. And it makes me weep for this child, who I have really only just met.
I think that I didn’t hit the anger portion of grief so much when my grandma died because A) we saw it coming a mile away and thus had some time to prepare and B) she was old by today’s standards. We are conditioned to think that if someone dies when they are old that it is more okay, because they got to live their life and “it was time.” Here’s the thing – that’s a load of crap. Or it is at least if you’re a Christian. It is never “time.”If you’re a Christian you know that death is a result of sin, and we are never supposed to be okay with sin or its consequences, in fact it’s one of the few things that can be classified as righteous anger. I don’t know if it’s part of what we’re taught as women, or Christians, or Christian women, but we’re not supposed to display anger because it’s unfeminine or something. Guess what, I’m pissed that my uncle died. I’m pissed that my grandparents were put in the position of burying their son – something no parent should have to do no matter how old their child is. I’m pissed that my dad and his brothers have to mourn their baby brother, the child that they helped raise and care for. I’m absolutely incensed that his grandson will never know just how much his grandfather loved him. I’m happy that my uncle is at rest, not in pain, and that I will have an eternity to get to know him better because as far as I know he was a Christian too. There is some comfort there. But I have a feeling that although I will remember Uncle Paul fondly, every time I think of him I won’t be able to help but feel a little angry. I think perhaps I need to be angry more. Death sucks. But as a Christian, someday rather than death sucks, I will say, “Death – suck it.” Maybe then I won’t be quite so angry.