I received word early this afternoon that my Uncle Phil (number seven in the line of siblings for my mom) passed away this morning. Suddenly, unexpectedly, of a heart attack. My heart breaks for his wife and his five daughters (the youngest of whom is only sixteen, and the eldest of whom I believe is in her early thirties). He also leaves behind a toddler grandson, and a one month old granddaughter. His middle daughter, who I was always pretty close to growing up, is getting married this Spring.
I will never know which is easier - to know the end is coming, like we did with my mother, and to prepare for it for weeks, even months - or to wake up one morning and find out that a piece of you is no longer here, with no warning, no last-minute chances to say goodbye.
After work, I headed over to my other aunt and uncles house, to see how this aunt was doing (the middle-child of the group of my mom's siblings). I told myself I was going to check on her, to make sure she was okay, and to see if she needed anything. But maybe I really went for me. I let myself cry. Not long and hard - that will come on the day of the funeral - but I actually let the tears escape that I had held in all day today at work.
Uncle Phil, you will be missed terribly by those who were left behind. And my beautiful cousins - I am so so sorry for your loss.