When you lose someone

By Caroline Waterhouse | Broadcast Reporter

I’m not usually a fan of the Christmas season, but this year, waking up to my mother screaming and realizing what happened took the cake as my darkest holiday memory.

I enjoyed being home with the luxury of fresh coffee in the morning, my dog running in my room to wake me up and chilly nights watching movies with my parents. After being home only a couple of days, my relaxing vacation was disrupted when I woke up abruptly to hear my mom crying on the phone. She kept asking how it happened, when it happened, and I could hear my grandpa on the other side of the line filling in details. As I put everything together, I emerged from my room at the exact moment my sister did, both of us glancing at each other before looking to our mom for the answers we already understood.

My heart sank and my throat filled with anguish as I heard my uncle died. Emotions and thoughts raced through my mind as I tried to comprehend everything. I knew I wouldn’t get to say goodbye to the uncle I had grown much closer to in the past few years.

When my aunt and uncle moved about 15 minutes away from me, it was great to have family so close, especially since my home is halfway across the country. My uncle helped me move in and out of my college apartments for three years and would put together furniture for me. I could always go to their house when I wanted a home-cooked meal, and he always took such interest in whatever was going on in my life. He shared tips about my constantly failing car and even drove hours to get it checked out when I was too busy. He would ask for updates about which boy I liked, and he always was so happy to show me the progress of his vegetable garden and the potatoes he grew in a trash bag.

My uncle constantly invited me to visit my cousins in Dallas with them, and every time, his offer was presented just as eagerly as the last. Just as consistently as he invited me, I had to take a rain check due to my busy schedule. He was someone who lived only 15 minutes down the street, and it had been a couple months since I last saw him before he died.

The worst guilt I have is from never making it to Dallas, not spending more time, not fully appreciating all he did for me whenever I needed help. The last time I saw him, my mom and grandma came to visit, and I acted like spending time with my family was something I had to do and couldn’t wait to get in my car and go back home.

That was the last time I saw him. Even though I still remember how he laughed, smiled, talked — I can picture it all perfectly — every time I see that memorial pamphlet in my room, I still can’t believe he is gone.

At the memorial service, my aunt told me how he used to tell everyone at work how talented I was and how he was so proud of me. That cheery-turned-dark Christmas is slowly fading away as I continue my days and weeks, but that memory of him being proud is what stays with me.