Endings

as long as you remember me ::explored::
Credit: flickr / kanelstrand

My uncle died last week. We knew it was coming, and this is the family thing I’ve been referring to of late. It was, as it always seems to be in these situations when someone leaves this world, their family, too soon, cancer.

My family is not a close one, and I did not know this man. Apparently I met him once when I was little, I played with him and called him “Frog” (I asked my dad why, and he said he didn’t know – I had a habit of calling people strange things). I have a gift from when I was 12 or 13, and that is all.

My dad has lost his brother. Three little girls have lost their father. All I have lost is a possibility – as assumption that has been broken. Someone at the peripheral, who when I thought about it I assumed I would meet – as an adult – eventually is gone, and that will never happen.

You always think you have more time. Until you don’t.

With my imminent departure from Ottawa, I have been thinking about endings a lot. The last post meme, had me thinking about that too. I’ve been carrying the situation above with me – close enough to hit me hard, but far enough away to be able to contemplate loss in the abstract.

And what I keep coming back to, is relationships. Not software – although beautiful software is a gift we can give. Relationships. The relationships that we assume we’ll have tomorrow, we need to build today. Someone said at Grace Hopper that you couldn’t put friends and family on hold and build them after you’ve built your career – you have to invest in them as you go along.

And so I’m deliberately carving out more time in my life for the people I love, and those who I want to know better.

And, as you may have guessed from what I wrote above, I’m thinking about time – or lack thereof. My frenzied rushing about is worse than ever, because time seems in short supply. My list of goals, and plans for impact, are more ambitious. My intolerance for things that are fundamentally pointless, lower.

So, if this were my last post I would talk about making the most of the time you have, and taking time to build the relationships you want.

But I don’t know what to say about my uncle. At times like this, my atheism weighs on me like a rock – Christians and other religious people have these things that they say, these concepts they throw out like they will comfort. See you again. Rest in Peace. I’ll pray for you.

As an atheist, all I have, is that I will look at that gift and it will remind me that I must make the most of the time I have, and build the relationships I want tomorrow, today.

6 thoughts on “Endings

  1. The view that this life is all there is gives up the comfort of an afterlife for the clarity of limitations. It makes it easier to appreciate the all-too-short moments we have.

    As for what to say to others who have been left behind: say “I’m here for you,” or listen as they celebrate their closer memories of shared lives.

  2. Cate – this is a beautiful post and I agree with the sentiment completely. Time is such a valuable commodity and figuring out what you want in life and then making the time for that is of utmost importance. Sometimes it means saying no to things and making the hard choice but we only have so many hours in the day. Sorry about your uncle.

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