Grief sneaks up on you. It’s a stealthy bitch, one minute you’re sitting there and thinking about tattoos and what should you get and where should you put it and oh wait, I was going to ask Uncle what-. Then it absolutely sucker punches you right in the face. Completely unexpected. It leaves you winded and sobbing for breath, alone in your room, at the remains of your essay, thinking: “does it get better?”
You miss him. Not everyday anymore, it gets easier in that your waking thoughts aren’t consumed by what-ifs and sorrows and worries. But it’s the little moments like this that come out of nowhere, like a goddamn ninja, leaving you heartsore because you never think to brace yourself for impact. Innocuous things, like scrolling through your Whatsapp and thinking “hmm I should reply these messages, let me check who I need to reply to” and seeing his last message to you. Yeah, you don’t really recover from that one and you stop going on Whatsapp. Or things like you see a cute baby animal, and your first reaction is to send it to him to cheer him up because he could maybe use the distraction from the pain, and oh no. They’re going to make no one feel better. Okay, that’s maybe a semi-lie, your first reaction was “OMG SO CUTE” and a little mental-flail. But it’s your second reaction that wipes the first from your mind. Or you might just had a bad day, stressed from deadlines, and you come home and get in the shower, then out of nowhere your breath starts hitching like your lungs refuse to function, and you cry in your narrow shower stall, with suds still in your hair. Or it’s when you’re thinking of what to make for dinner as you’re strolling towards Tesco’s, and oh maybe turkey because apparently that’s the healthy thing to eat now, and how do you cook turkey exactly, surely not a Christmas turkey like I made last time for Uncle. Then you stop and remember the time you showed off your pork belly rice to him and he replied “I’m so proud! Can’t wait for you to make me a feast when I’m better”. Because he actually believed he would recover - and so did you. But he never got better. And you’ll never get to cook for him again.
Or a hundred other moments when it hits you and you need a moment just to breathe again. It gets so that you don’t want to think, you don’t want to do anything but lay in bed and and close your eyes against the world, wrap yourself in the comforting cocoon of your comforter.
Your friends are there for you, they love you and they mean well. But firstly it’s embarrassing to be blubbering and snotting everywhere all the time; secondly, they have lives and deadlines, and ain’t nobody got time for all this crying; and mostly, it’s obvious they say can make the situation anywhere near okay. It’s too much to deal with more awkwardness on top of your own - you love them, but you only want him. You want to feel your Uncle’s increasingly thin arms around you, patting your head. It aches each time you remember the last time you hugged him, before you headed off to the airport. You didn’t want to let go, because somehow you knew, you knew in thedeepest part of you, that this was going to be the last time. Somehow, you let him convince you that the next time you came home, he would be hale and whole.
You left. So did he.