Thursday, January 18, 2007

Trigger

Grey's Anatomy was sad and beautiful this week, wasn't it?

I won't get into details. I don't want to spoil the episode for anyone who has yet to watch it. But I don't think that it would hurt to say that it was a sad, beautiful, quiet, powerful episode. I enjoyed it.

There was one tiny portion of the episode - when George's brother has a bit of gas and the family is laughing uproariously - that reminded me of when my Uncle Rich died. There were moments just like that. Laughing with a heavy heart and teary eyes.

Uncle Rich died in January, 1997. It was a Tuesday. I was in 9th grade.

I have a lot of good memories from the days following his death. Maybe good isn't the right word. Close, perhaps. My memories evoke a feeling of closeness.

Uncle Rich had a sudden heart attack; he was 44. He died in his basement following a workout on his treadmill. My aunt found him when she returned from home that night.

I remember standing in his basement, seeing the shoes he was wearing when he died sitting on the floor next to the treadmill. My aunt must've taken them off of him before the ambulance took his body. Or maybe he'd taken them off himself. I never asked.

My aunt and uncle lived in Ohio. My entire family, and the close-knit group of friends who are those who grew up around my dad's family, stayed in the same hotel. We were given the entire top floor. The hospitality room was always open for us. Free of charge. Courtesy of my uncle's company.

My mom's parents came down for the funeral. Some of my dad's best friends. My Aunt Louise and Uncle Ed. The number of people at the funeral home was overwhelming. I sat with Meg and my cousins Paul and Danielle at the funeral. I can't remember if I cried. I imagine that I did.

One day, my aunt bought me dress shoes. They were by Esprit. I might still have them somewhere.

Meg, Paul, Liz and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the proper way to pronounce "concierge." We said it differently every time. Con-ser-gee. Con-cur-ga. We still laugh about that.

A neighbor brought us over blueberry muffins. Meg and Paul ate the entire batch.

The fire alarm went off in the hotel twice. Once in the middle of the night. It didn't matter; nobody could sleep. Once in the middle of the day. My parents took Meg, Paul and I down the closest stairwell. There was smoke. I was first, leading the way, and I can still hear the shakiness in my voice when I told my parents.

It turned out only to be a steam pipe that burst.

Mom and Dad took Meg, Paul and I to a restaurant. We ate nearly nothing. The waitress was surprised when we didn't want to bring any of it with us.

Aunt Lynn bellowed Paul's name in the middle of a department store with such fervor that we still imitate it.

Cousin Liz memorized the digital message board flashing on the restaurant across the street.

Recalling that weekend, we always smile, assuring one another that Uncle Rich was laughing at us. The smiles and the laughs, however, are only half of the story.

We don't talk about the other half.

My mind's eye can see, from where I was sitting on the couch in my pajamas, my dad leaning up against the kitchen counter after my aunt called to tell him that his big brother was dead. I remember it perfectly.

It's a memory that I have never once vocalized.

2 comments:

M said...

I agree the episode was great. I cried almost the whole way through. It made me think of my grandma's passing and the constant family time after that. Thanks for sharing your story.

Laurie said...

You gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. Everything seems so normal and yet so much like the Twilight Zone.

 
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