I traveled home recently for a significant family funeral. It was not the ideal setting to be able to reconnect with family and friends who I had not seen in years, but it was a true silver lining in the midst of such sadness. I traveled alone which was hard because I would’ve loved my husband and kids to be with our family too, but it did allow me to focus on all the moments I was experiencing with total clarity.
I had the opportunity to spend unspoiled time with my brother which hasn’t happened in I don’t know many years, and it was what we both needed. We didn’t plan anything extravagant; just some good ol’ Chicago deep dish and a bottle wine. My brother and I are familiar with loss. We lost our Mother 25 years ago and it still sits very much on the surface for both of us…always simmering. Our sibling connection is unimaginably strong because of my Mother. After all, we’re siblings because of her sheer will in ensuring she had two children. She must’ve known we would need each other as time passed.
I was able to spend time with my in-laws and my husband’s family…family that I truly call my own. Family who has always shown up for my husband and me and continues to no matter what. We ate and laughed like only we can and it was good for my soul. Sometimes you just need to be around family to feel whole again.
And that’s exactly what this weekend did for me. Stepping into the doors of my uncle’s memorial catapulted me right into the arms of many of the most important people in my life. Family I hadn’t seen for years which sounds insane because anyone who knows me knows I live for family and would drop anything to spend as much time with them as humanly possible…and have.
We were all there together, something I have not witnessed or experienced in quite some time and it was profound. We sat and we listened to my uncle’s children and grandchildren speak about his life. Friends shared a lifetime of memories—in just a fraction of the time it took to make all those memories—as we sat and listened through crocodile tears, and we all marveled at just how impactful this man truly was.
To live a life that could be so eloquently summed up in the way it was was like mentally watching a tapestry being woven together with the colors of my uncle’s life as the indelible medium. I knew he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, but I honestly did not understand the magnitude. And, at one moment, I couldn’t help but think…is this who I am to my children, to my husband?
I don’t think you could have left that room without wondering if you were making that kind of an impact on your own family and in your own life. But what really stood out was something my Goddaughter concluded with in her incredibly beautiful tribute to her grandfather. It’s something I have said often in my blog and it couldn’t have been more powerful and resounding.
My uncle, her Pepa, showed up. He always showed up.
And I realized that was what made him larger than life for me. He knew what it meant to show up for family and friends. For his community and for his passions. To be so present in every moment that it made a lasting impression on everyone and everything. That truly is incredible.
I think that’s all it truly takes to make a difference in someone’s life. Showing up and giving whatever you have to that person. After all, life is fleeting and it can be snuffed out at a moment’s notice. I have firsthand experience with that and it’s crippling, so it’s best to show up as much as you can.
And so as I left my family and headed back to my beloveds, I tried to focus on all the ways I have showed up thus far in their lives and how I can continue to do so. I thought about how I have showed up for my extended family and how I can continue to do so.
When we lose someone it really does make us reflect on our life and if we need to pivot, rethink or redo things. How we need to make it more fulfilling. I really don’t know if I’ll be able to live as fulfilled a life as my uncle did or impact my friends and family the way he did, but he sure did give me the motivation to try.
So, to my Nico…I will continue to show up for you, my sweet boy, in any and every way I can to ensure you live a happy, healthy, impactful life. I will continue to find ways to bring you in closer to your family and excite you in ways that are reserved only for you. To show you as much of the world as possible so you can create beautiful and magical memories of your own through those mysterious and wondrous eyes of yours. And to always be the best version of myself for you. I know I’ve stumbled, but with your grace I will continue to advocate for you and love you like no one can. I will always show up so you know what it feels like to be loved beyond measure .
To my Máximo, my little pistol who has brought a new sense of life and excitement into my world that I didn’t know was possible. I promise to show up for you in the ways that impact you the most. With love and patience and a playful imagination. I will continue to celebrate your independence and quick wit. Encourage you to try everything you want without worrying that you may not be able to handle it. To continue to teach you what it means to unconditionally love your sibling, as I do mine, because that was one of the BEST ways your Grandma Jeanie showed up. And, I will show up as your mom with the deepest gratitude knowing that you came into my life to make it the most complete it could be. I will always show up so you know what it feels like to be loved beyond measure .
And to my husband…my true ride or die. I promise to show up as your friend when you need a friend most. I promise to show up as your partner so that you never feel like this life of ours is too much or too little. And I promise to show up as the love of your life so you feel the unimaginable and indescribable love I have for you in new ways everyday. Our life is not easy and yet we keep reinventing it in ways that keep it fun and interesting, positive and worth living together. I will show up like I always have for you because it’s what truly does give me joy; having someone to share in life’s sweet, sour, and soulful moments is paramount for me.
Our shared memories and experiences are what etch lasting marks on our heart and those we love. Just like I saw this weekend when celebrating my uncle’s well-lived life.
So to my dear uncle, thank you. This is probably the most fantastical way you showed up for me. Watch over us. Continue to send your light and love out to all of us so we may live a life as full as yours. And I will protect every wildflower I come across and will continue to curse every billboard I see on our nation’s highways in your name! Love your niece.