2011 was a very hard year for my family in a lot of ways, and a really wonderful year in other ways.
The big things were losing my best friend Kim, and my Uncle, Kim died 11/11/11, and my Uncle Lamar died 1/30/11. There is a lot of sadness in those things, but also a measure of joy.
The sadness is obvious. They were both incredible people, and they are missed so much. The joy is for much the same reason.
My dad and his brother were very close, so growing up, it was like having two dads. Uncle Lamar was always there. He had a big booming laugh and could be awfully hard on my brother and I. We never got away with *anything* with him, he always knew when we were up to something.
But when we became adults, he didn't nag, he didn't preach. He let us make our own mistakes and was always there to talk to about the life lessons we learned.
He had diabetes. He's the reason for the sugar free recipes I've concocted over the years. I liked baking him special treats. He told me if he had the money, he would love for us to go in on a sugar free bakery.That we would make so much money with my recipes.
About 2 weeks ago, his blood sugar got messed up, and he had a stroke while driving a car. We went to visit to him at the hospital. We talked about all sorts of things, and laughed a lot. For a while, it looked like he was getting better.Then he had another stroke. This one caused a bleed in his brain, and they tried surgery to save him. He never came out of his coma, and passed peacefully surrounded by people he loved and his family.
The last few years, I've been making a real point of calling him a couple times a week, of asking him if he needed anything, of spending time with him and telling him how much I loved him on a regular basis. Making him things and telling him thank you just for being there. Not that me or anyone else was expecting this. We knew he had health problems. He beat cancer just last year. But there was something that seemed eternal about him. So we weren't ready, but there were also precious few regrets other than wishing we could have had him longer.
There was laughter in the room he laid in after he passed. We shared joy as well as sadness because it's impossible not to have joy with someone who was so vibrant and involved in so many lives. My dad wasn't there for that, they left him alone for his goodbyes. He and I had our laughter today. We shared memories, and dad said-
"If you have one friend in your life who you know you can count on no matter what, who will always have you back, even if you're wrong, who loves you no matter what, you have a lot more than most people."
We've been so lucky, so very blessed in our lives. We have those friends. And we are careful with them, to tell them we love them, and appreciate them. That we are proud of them. I learned that in part from my Uncle, who always told me he was proud of me, who always told me he loved me.
My son's birthday was 12/31. We didn't let this ruin his birthday. We had a quiet celebration today, and will do more in a few days. He was worried about the appropriateness of celebrating, but it's what Uncle Lamar would have wanted.
Hello 2012, I'm sorry that you won't see Kim and Lamar. But hopefully this year will be gentler for the people who had a hard time in 2011, and for people who had a good year, I hope this year is even better.