And then a loss so deep brings us right back to the starting line.
I don’t have much in the way of pictures today for this blog. Actually, I have so many pictures I could put on this blog, but out of respect and privacy, I will not post a single one. They will be reserved for frames on our mantle instead. My brother in law passed away unexpectedly the night before last. Everyone in the family is devastated. He leaves behind a wonderful wife who he loved deeply and faithfully, two beautiful daughters and a life full of adventure, travel and very hard work. He would have turned 50 in just a couple of weeks. Way too young to leave us. He was Ava’s God Father. He and Scott were very close in their adult years. He was the best man in our wedding.
It was yesterday morning, I was just home from taking the morning van to school. I am the new van supervisor for the children’s transport service. I will fill you in on another post for all that. I had just gotten home and saw we had a voicemail from Scotts mom. I had to figure out how to listen to it because it’s through the computer. As I’m listening to it, she’s crying and saying something happened to her son and that he is dying and that he was in the hospital and they were working on him. I had not heard the news yet that it was not successful and they were not able to revive him. I paused the voicemail as I panicked and thought which way to tell Scott. I decided I was going to hop in a cab and go to his office. That particular morning was a really big deal at his work. One of the country’s top people were there to promote the company. They had a stage set up and everything. It was (and still is, just without Scott) a big production. As I’m playing the rest of the voicemail from his mom out loud getting my shoes on to leave, Scott walked right through the front door. His head down, and I knew immediately the outcome. He asked me why I hadn’t seen his message to me on whats app. Ever since my phone turned into a Malta number, I don’t have a ringer or message alerts. I’m not sure why. If the phone is not in my actual hand, I have no idea anyone is trying to contact me.
Scott and I walked to the store after a few hours so we could get something to make ourselves lunch. Scott bought a big steak to cook on the grill. Scott and his brother were on a competition bbq team. Grilling was a big thing in his family. He got a bottle of Jack, and a beautiful steak and he sat outside and grilled it. He sat in a chair and I gave him that space to have that time to himself. I wasn’t far though, of course. I watched him through the kitchen window as I made myself a sandwich. I saw his head down, his shoulders shaking as he cried, and watched him wipe away the tears. I cried along with him, watching him in so much pain is agonizing to me. It reminded me of the wedding toast that his brother gave us. He mentioned that in the ceremony I wiped the sweat from Scotts face. His brother brought that up as being a true symbol of love. It’s something I’ve always remembered about our special weekend wedding.
I can’t help but wonder now as he rests above and looking at all of his loved ones and watching their lives, will he feel a sense of pride in his little brother for taking that leap and moving so far away? Will he wish he would have had the time to do something like that? Over the years we’ve had big talks about retirement and where we want to end up. Some of those talks over the years have even been about would we want to retire in the same area together. He was always so fond of Costa Rica and so are we although we have not traveled there as much as big brother had. In an instant all of that goes away. My husband always said “if something happens to me, the first call you make is to my brother. He will help you get everything handled.” He always took care of everything for the family. He would have happily taken care of me and the kids and helped us figure out how to lay out the proper financials and make life plans. Now, it’s his family instead. Our girls are much younger than his children. They will know what to do all on their own I suspect. Each of them are both brilliant and wise. For them, it will be learning how to live without someone who always took care of them. That is enough for anyone to have to navigate. I only know from experience that from this moment on, they will never be the same people they were just two days ago. Never ever will life look like it did. Grief changes you. It changes you in ways that you can never get back. People often look to healing as if they can return to who they were before, but that person is no longer existing in real time and space. Who we become is the beautiful vase with the big golden scar.
There is a Japanese practice when something breaks, like a vase, you don’t try to hide the scar. You fill it with gold and make it part of the art itself. So with grief, you don’t hide the part that changed you forever. You allow the grief and pain to become a scar of gold, always adding to the precious art that is you. “Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique.” (Wikipedia)
My heart goes out to his daughters who grew up with such a strong relationship to their dad. He was a really fantastic father. Now, they won’t get to have him walk them down the aisle. Believe me, as a daughter, the thought of that is devastating and that realization comes around quickly. It is such a special role that the father has to his daughters. It was for that reason that for my own wedding, I could not have asked another man to do it in my dads place. I was untraditional and had my mother walk me down. She was the only one who could. Since I was 13 years old, she has been both my mother and my father.
Being so far away and receiving this news makes us feel helpless. Being somewhere out of the country is very difficult. Being out of the country during a world wide pandemic is something else entirely. He will fly back to the states, there is no restriction coming back into Georgia. Of course this comes as no surprise because Georgia basically has zero restrictions to keep anyone safe as it is. Hence the more than 5,000 deaths recorded in that state alone. It is not a place I wanted any of us to go back to anytime soon. Because America is labeled “a dirty country” you cannot return to Malta from there. So, he would need to go to a “clean country” in Europe or someplace else and quarantine there for 14 days before he can return to us in Malta. While I understand all of it, I also fear greatly that anything could happen to him during this travel at this time. I cannot risk losing him to Covid or any other mishap. I am terrified for all of us with this travel. We will have to tell the girls school as well that we have someone leaving the country and make sure the girls will not have to go to online school because of it. They have a policy in place if any family member in the house leaves the island we have to show the flight ticket and be cleared to allow the children to continue to attend in person. Even with him doing the quarantine in another country before he returns here, it still puts everyone at risk.
Just because a country is deemed ‘clean’ does not mean that they are not facing this pandemic. Being on an airplane is a serious risk. I know he would never miss the service of his only brother and I can’t ask him to. I wouldn’t get my way on this if I tried and I know it. But now I count down the short days before he leaves. I realize during that month of him being away, I will be here with the girls in a foreign country trying to make it work. Of course I know I can call on our friends here, but it’s just not the same thing. I have a car right now in this very moment that I don’t feel comfortable driving. The girls and I will stay close to home. We will take a cab or walk as necessary and just try to make it through and pray with all our might that Scott returns to us safely and in good health.
I also know that this is a selfish thing to even talk about since his brother, nor his wife, nor his children have such an option anymore. There is nothing positive here. No silver lining exists. Taking the chance to move here was brave. Losing all of it in one mighty swoop is fear based. We just started our life here. We just started our children’s life here. I don’t want to go back. This virus has no preferences. It does not play favorites or eliminate you from the line of fire just because you think it will. Everyone is at risk. How it manifests itself in one person is entirely different to how it will play out in another. To minimize this reality and the risks associated with it is both offensive and ignorant. It’s a risk here, but not nearly the risk that it poses in the states, Georgia especially. It is a place I hoped never to return to until this virus was eliminated or at least well under control. I felt like we were put here to keep us safe and alive. It felt Divine to get to be here at exactly the time we got to go. Now I am just sad, and afraid. And there it is. Life. Life will kick your ass. It always will. Life will also lift you up and bless you with amazing opportunities not unlike the new life I’m living right this very minute. Life. And death. Love and loss. Yin and Yang. It is, was, and always will be the meeting place for all living things.
My heart goes out so deeply to all of the people that he leaves behind. I pray his transition into the Heavens is a peaceful one. I know he has a lot of loved ones on the other side celebrating his life with him right now as we stay back and mourn the loss of the life he had here.