His tapestry was stretched far across from one end of the tent to the other — a mosaic of my cousin Chuck’s life. A person’s tapestry is the full chronology, the lens of a life it reflects and remembers. The perfect setting for remembering him was in his childhood backyard amidst shared tears and lots of laughter – hundreds together on a beautiful late summer afternoon to honor him and raise him up.
Over this past month since Chuck’s August 16 passing no doubt we all experienced waves of emotion that were felt deep to the root. Sadness for a life lost way, way too soon; anger for the how and why – so young he was; regret for not trying harder to conquer the miles and time between us; joy in thinking of a favorite or most recent special time with Chuck. And even fear of thinking of life without him, of giving ourselves permission to go have fun, live life…but all the while asking how can we if he can’t. And fear too, that if we move on will we forget?
How very lucky we are to be on some part of person’s journey. Truly it is a privilege and blessing. But there are no guarantees and we can’t keep everyone with us. My time on Chuck’s journey was our shared childhoods, along with my cousins. Shared holidays, family meals, playing in the backyard, simpler times. Watching baseball in Chuck’s backyard, visiting Vine Road just to talk and be together. My immediate deep regret after his passing was that I wish we remained closer, that time and distance did not separate us. This heavy feeling prevailed for days and even weeks. Little by little clarity returned and I was reminded that time and distance are just inevitable over the passage of our lives – lives that intersect now and then, maybe briefly and even by chance, if at all.
My last, best memory with Chuck was just in July, and was by chance, at what turned out to be a cousin’s sleepover at his childhood home in Connecticut. I came down from Rhode Island and he was up from Texas, his sister Melissa in town as well, just after the passing of their Dad. Chuck asked “Hey Lis, wanna watch a movie? This one is great. I’ve seen it so many times.” Ummm, sure — I guess a movie about money and finances might be interesting. (I’m really all about a great Western, but sure.) And you know what – the movie instantly grabbed me. It was 11 p.m. when we started it. Eyes never got heavy, just instantly reeled in. Watching THE BIG SHORT, a film about the 2008 financial crash, bless my cousin, the Economics major – he paused that film a half-dozen times to explain some high level economic concepts floating over the head of me, his writer cousin, who’s admittedly always been challenged by math! His careful explanations and suspended judgment that someone would even need a tutorial on the topic, not to mention just hanging out with this great guy – an unexpected gift I’ll now carry always! If only I had a math teacher like him years ago!!
When we come to realize our place in someone’s life, for however long it may be or have been, only then is there acceptance. For others the gift on Chuck’s journey may have been long-term as with his sisters – the family/growing up years; or his friends in the high school/college years; his colleagues in the work years; his bride in the married years; his children in the father years….all parts of the whole of Chuck’s life. Life’s ebb and flow, the very current moves us on and away from and toward each other. We keep those we love, respect and care for always in our hearts. We are tethered to each other by an invisible thread. And those threads carefully weave together the entire tapestry of a person’s life.
Collectively we all bid Chuck a farewell yesterday fitting for a guy who just so loved gathering and being with his family and friends. A return tip of the hat to him for all he was and did for others and for what he believed in. We can move on and must move on now, which does not mean we will forget. We will never forget! In all we do, in choices we make, in how we treat people and react to situations, Chuck can and will be there to guide us. We can still call on him as he will be close at hand. He is there by an invisible thread. Only a change of worlds…but he’s there.