Feelings travel faster than words. I have always been able to sense the energy in the room, so the minute I woke up, I could tell something just wasn’t right. The bottom of my feet stuck to the lethargic wooden floors the way they do when encompassed by silence. Confused and unaware of what the day would bring, I wandered the hallway searching for signs of life. My footsteps seemed more dramatic, almost shrill in the company of the complete dormancy that surrounded me. Through the void of darkness, in tones of anguish and distress, my mom’s voice rushed at me, affirming my concern. The feeling lingered as I lurked outside the door, at a safe enough distance that I would be left unnoticed. When I had gone to sleep the night before, I had not a care in the world, aside from the fact that I would have to wake early the following morning. While I heard the words that were being spoken into her phone, I could not hear the news traveling from the other end. I could sense the distress and heartache enough to feel it firsthand yet knew not what was of grave concern.
My Uncle had passed unexpectedly in the middle of the night. What I didn’t know was that his battle had begun almost three days prior. Cris was the most genuine guy with a smile that could light up the entire universe any day. This was as had been stated many times by multiple family members; the most devastating moment that our family had experienced to date. Mourning a loved one who still had a lot of living to do was indescribable. Even more challenging was to watch as those I always looked to for comfort needed to take my hand, and my shoulder as their hearts shattered into a million pieces. In typical fashion, my family tried with everything we had to celebrate Cris’s life; his accomplishments, his passions, and all of the love he gave. With every encounter the mutual melancholy feelings were palpable as many faces new and old offered us all their most sincere condolences. Sarah had just lost her only brother, predeceased by her parents. Our cousins had lost their father at 3 and 5 years old. Sheila had lost her husband and backbone, and we all had to do our best to fight through our sadness to share in theirs.Many sacrifices were made throughout the week, but suddenly none of this mattered. Friday nights with friends and chemistry tests being the very least of them. As per his wife’s wishes, Cris’s funeral was held at a catholic church in Bronxville. This custom was unknown to our family, but all that mattered was that Sheila got the closure she needed. My mom and her three brothers planned a Shiva to bring comfort to Sarah in a way that was comfortable for her. Surrounded by her community of family and friends whose only wish was that she felt how undeniably loved she was. Our entire family had canceled virtually every obligation and commitment to be available to feel together and share in each other’s pain as we navigated this unanticipated nightmare.