My great uncle J.H. passed away. In April, he'd been diagnosed with kidney cancer, and by June, he was gone. While it wasn't quite as unexpected and out-of-the-blue as my PaPa's death, it was still so fast. Too fast. When PaPa died, I wondered if it would have been easier to have known and have had some warning. But now I know. You're never ready. We're never ready to let go of the people we love.
Y'all, I've always admired Uncle J.H. He carried himself in such a stately manner, like if you looked in the dictionary under "Southern gentleman," you'd find his picture. But he was also down-to-earth, always asking about other people and being genuinely interested in their answers. He was one of a kind, and the world--our family--has truly lost another bright light.
Deek often comes up with these great analogies for things, but at first, you don't see the connection. So, he always starts with "Hang with me for a minute." I'm going to say that now. Hang with me for a minute, and you'll see where this is going...
This morning, I envisioned our family like a Light Bright picture (see...hang with me here). Does anyone remember those? I think they actually still sell them.
Each member is a light that makes up the amazing picture that is my family. And slowly, over time, some of those lights go out. MaMa (my great-grandmother), PaPa's brothers and sister, cousins, PaPa, and now Uncle J.H. Sometimes lights come into the picture, when babies are born or when people get married, but never in the same place as the lights that went out. Those are not replaceable.
This Light Bright picture of our family is ever changing. One image is not more beautiful than the next, just different. But when you're like me and remember the original picture--the one with everyone who's gone--you miss it. You yearn to see it, and them, just one more time.
But the truth is...that's not the original image, is it? That's the new picture that changed when the people before us--PaPa, his brothers and sisters, Uncle J.H.--lost their own loved ones. The image I feel is the "original" came only when other lights faded. I bet PaPa and Uncle J.H. missed their "original" Light Bright family pictures too. I bet they stood where the rest of my family is standing today...mired in grief and sadness. Missing. Longing. Wishing.
Yet PaPa and Uncle J.H. kept shining. And we should too. Instead of thinking their light has gone out, we should imagine it has been transferred--to the rest of us. It's up to us now to shine as brightly as we can. This family Light Bright picture may not be the one we remember, but it's beautiful too. It's infused with the lights of so many generations.
It's a legacy. A proud, deep legacy.