I’m struggling. Loss hits everyone different, and every loss hits different. My uncle died earlier this week. It wasn’t unexpected, it wasn’t covid. He died at home, with his family, the way he wanted. I still feel sad. I feel the empty space. I feel a little numb.

I am not a fan of death. Especially as I get older, closer, it weighs on me. Each loss pulls me closer to the abyss. Each loss takes up space in my brain, the space that talks to me in the dark of the night when I’m at my loneliest. I think a big part of it is covid.

I’m locked at home. I rarely get outside of my home, and I’m recognizing individual trees in the forest. There are some I look forward to seeing, these are my new friends. I like to admire their new clothes, whether it’s the spectacular colors of changing leaves or the thick new coat of winter snow. I crave my moments outside. My four walls are too thick, too protective, too lonely. Never more so then when I lose another person out of my life.

I was raised Catholic. I am still Catholic. I no longer regularly attend church, not because I don’t believe or I have lost faith, but because I hate church in German. My German is fine, but a sermon in German still sounds scary. I do not find peace at Mass here like I do in English or Dutch. I think the no church is hurting me.

I definitely think the no funerals is hurting me. I have a need to say goodbye. To be with my people, to remember my loved ones, to cry, laugh & share memories. This damn virus has taken that from me, and it’s hurting me.

My uncle was a crotchety old man, even when he was my age. He was always gruff. A dry wit, a sarcastic humor. He usually sat at the back, to the side, of the huge crowd that is my family. Sometimes with another uncle, maybe his wife or a cousin, but never in the thick of things. Not like me, or my sisters.

Still, he was a big part of my life. Always there. These last years, after we moved to Germany and Holland was just a hop-skip-and-a-jump away, I got to know him a little better. Our family is more spread out, there aren’t as many gatherings of All the People. Instead I got him in small doses, in small groups.

Our last visit was mostly about him. He was on oxygen, the tubes running through the house like an alien predator, looking for its next prey. Weird that it gave me chills, while it gave him life. He asked about me, how I was, we shared a couple of memories. And now he lives on in my memory, and my memories of memories.

Goodby Oom Gijs. I am thankful you are at peace.

My last picture of Oom Gijs, with his daughter Heidi & my Aunt Kitty
He’s sitting across from me, keeping me company even if he can’t enjoy the herring too