Today you are on my mind, as I sit in the stony silence of a California library. The light from the warm sun outside and the green trees blowing in the wind are playful reminders of life. They stand in stark contrast to the quiet stillness of the library. Today, though, the warmth wins me over as I remembered the love you showed me growing up…the excitement that charged through my mind anticipating a visit to Uncle John’s.

Today I think of some of our last conversations when you were dying. I dearly wanted death to scatter and leave you alone. My heart shrank a bit knowing the end was near and there was so much more to say. We weren’t silent with each other, but that didn’t bring back all those years when the silence was unrelenting.

Today, I am writing you from my perch amid the books overlooking the beautiful foothills. My eyes cannot help but meet the snow-capped mountains in the distance that gently crisscross one another. I close my eyes and try to remember your jovial nature, your sparkling eyes and the way everyone felt loved in your presence.

But then I think about the years I missed all that. They seem, ironically, both long and short at the same time. Years of silent disconnection, of not knowing or appreciating each other. To ask why seemed futile. They can’t come back. When did we stop being family?

Today, my body aches with a sadness whose depth seems unending. There are many questions, but instead of asking them, I feel I must rejoice that eventually we rebuilt our relationship. Maybe not as deep as before, certainly not as trusting or free, but we both held onto the love and familiarity. For a few brief months before you slipped away, we enjoyed the family ties that once were discarded for reasons neither of us probably fully know.

Today, I miss you and I love you in a combination of singularity and duality. It’s impossible to say, “I love you,” without feeling the sorrow of your death. You were more than an uncle, you were a father, a friend, a confidant, an encouragement, a person I trusted with the inner most secrets of my tender, young soul.

Today, as I finish writing you from my studious post among the foothills, my thoughts are clear…like the crystal sky victorious after a heavy rain. Grieving your passing is such a delicate dance between holding on and letting go. Releasing the sorrow means I can hold even more tightly to the self-confidence you built in me, to the security that was you. The colors of the landscape of my life are brighter because of your touch. I can never thank you for all the ways I am stronger except to assure that life comes bubbling out of me the way you taught me.

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