Thursday, January 30, 2014

These Days

I spent the days after my uncle's death with my family-- grieving together, making arrangements, eating. And I'm so glad that we've all given ourselves space to process in whatever way we see fit, so there's been crying and tears but there's also been singing and dancing and laughing, too. I've heard some great stories about my Uncle, and I think that being in such a safe space with family has been good. So far we've had two memorial type events, one that was the sunday after he died at my grandmother's house, and the second was in Grass Valley for the viewing of his body. There were plenty of people at both who came to pay their respects, support us and grieve with us, and I really can't say enough about how good it was to be around so many people who know Joe and just had so much good energy.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I'll Be Lovin' You Always

There have been a lot of things going on in my life recently, and I've been going around and around in my brain trying to figure out how I wanted to write it all down, if I wanted to write it at all. I've spend a significant portion of this new year angry and sad and depressed.

I've tried a few times to write this post, and have come up with little to say. The words seem to come so slow to my mind, and yet I have a million thoughts and feelings moving about in my brain trying to get out. But the biggest thing to happen this year, the one that has had the biggest affect on me, has been my uncle Joe's death. Joseph Harold Carter died suddenly on wednesday, January 15th. There is so much to be said about this great man, and I find that I lack the eloquence to give him justice on this humble blog, but I will try. My uncle was pretty much the best uncle ever. He had such a goofy smile and he had a presence that just lit up a room. Uncle Joe was a big guy, like a bear, and he gave the best hugs that just enveloped you. He loved his nieces and nephews, loved is brother and sister, loved his mothers and his wife and especially his son... he just loved everyone, and made sure you knew it.

His death was a complete shock for me. He was only 35! I had just seen him two days before! I wasn't at all prepared for the news. I was sitting on my couch with my friend Angela watching Supernatural when my mom walked through the door. I could tell as soon as she walked in that she was upset, but I didn't know why. I asked her what was wrong and she had such a hard time getting the words out (she was trying not to sob). Finally she says, "Your uncle Joey passed away!" For a moment I thought she meant my grandmother's brother, who died years ago. I asked, "My Uncle Joey?" because really, how could my Uncle Joey be dead? When I realized who she meant I began to wail. My mom fell into my arms and we cried together on the couch, I kept saying no, no, no. How could it be him? I keep asking myself that even now. Why? Why him? He was such a delight, he made everyone feel good and important and special. He was so happy in the last months of his life, it just seems so unfair for him to die so suddenly, playing basketball with his son at the park. Gone, just like that.

I keep comparing this feeling now to how I felt when my grandfather died in 2012 (another January death). I'm not sure which is worse, watching someone die over a period of months or having a loved one die suddenly, with no warning. On the one hand, it is pretty devastating to watch someone die, and when my grandfather died it was two months of hospital visits, being with him and hoping he would live but knowing he was dying. It was incredibly painful, and the longer it went on the devastating it was. On the other hand, it feels like there was so much left for my Uncle to do and see, and his sudden death made me feel like he was robbed of those things. And we were robbed of the opportunity to say goodbye, to make with whatever conflicts any of us had with him, to do that one last thing you would want to do with a loved one before they passed on. I didn't get a chance to know him more, to hear his stories and to tell him how much I appreciated his presence in my life.

I find myself filled with anger and grief and sadness over this tragedy. I keep asking why, why would god take such a light in the world so soon? Why take him, when there are so many bad people in the world who would have been more deserving? And I think about his son, my cousin, and think why would you take away his father? I don't think there is a person on this earth who put more love into Isaiah than Joe. I can't even describe it, you just saw them together and it was like an explosion of love. That can never be replaced. So I'm angry. I'm mad that he died.

I miss him so much. I wish I wasn't writing this post. It just hurts.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Hello 2014!

First selfie of the year!

Well, another year has come and gone.  I have to say, 2013 was a pretty great year. I graduated from College, I got engaged, and I started planning a wedding. I got to be there when my close friend married her dream man in September, I got to spend time with my family in Oregon at our Family Reunion, and I have been blessed to be able to explore my spirituality, which has led me to Judaism. I don't know what 2014 will have in store, but I'm excited about the possibilities. This year, I'll be getting married! I'll be learning more about Judaism, taking classes and going to Shabbat services, experiencing my first Pesach, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur... It's exciting and so scary (I have a bit of social anxiety, so it is a challenge for me to go out in the world and interact with people I don't know, doing things I'm not exactly familiar with), and I think I am ready to go for it. At my own pace, on my terms.

Bring on 2014! I'm ready to take it all on!

Here's some highlights from our New Year's celebration:

Way Late Hanukkah Post

As promised, I made a little collage of each night of candle lighting for Hanukkah:

I know, this post is way overdue. But better late than never, right? Happy holidays!