We went through the service, which my father-in-law conducted (it meant so much to me), took pictures together and then decided to eat after the service; it was my father-in-law’s idea. It was an amazing time where we all got together, my father’s two brothers, an aunt, two cousins, my sister and oldest niece, my husband and his family as well as my stepmother’s friends and family. I hadn’t seen my youngest uncle and aunt for many years, so I was really excited to catch up with them. My oldest uncle and cousins had been to Florida a few times, so I had seen them a few years previously and we were all able to keep in contact on Facebook. I remember as my oldest uncle began to give historical facts and I was amazed that I hadn’t realized how brilliant he was in an area that I had relieved my degree. This was an exciting connection that I realized we shared, whereas, before I just had memories of falling asleep as a child on his lap and of him being able to fall asleep anywhere. My memories of him and my cousins were fond as I remember looking back, but when my the youngest one was born, we moved away. My husband instantly fell in love with my father’s siblings and my cousins while teasing them about making a plan to finish college in the future.
As we were leaving, my uncle and cousins decided to change before they drove home, they were going to drive through the night. They decided to take a few pictures at our house and then they left. That night we had dinner with my uncle and aunt who were staying another day. It was so amazing that even on a day that was tinged with sadness, I was able to take a few pictures of them around the dinner table, laughing as a family, my husband’s parents, my aunt and uncle, and us. It was almost as if they had known each other forever and that we had had many dinners together. We had planned to go out and show them the sights in our area, the next day, September 18, 2013.
Kevin and I picked them up from their hotel so that we could show them around. We started by showing them my school, places where I had lived growing and the bridge that my father had helped build. It was amazing that, in that moment, felt peace as I was staring at the familiar bridge that my father worked on, knowing that when I crossed it I would be able to remember him. Later, we took them out to the beach and a local state park. It was there that we started to talk about how we had not heard from my uncle and cousins. As my uncle was calling their phones, I saw dolphins swimming and started to take a video in case he couldn’t see them in time. It was in that moment that I heard him scream out and start to sob. I had no idea that, exactly a week to the day that my father would pass away, I would learn that my uncle and cousins were in a horrifying car accident, killing my uncle and cousin instantly. That day, my father’s family had to, exactly a week later,tell my grandfather that he had, not only lost another son, but a granddaughter as well.
In that moment, again, I was sad, but was more concerned for them and was so upset and felt that because of my Dad’s death, now they were dead as well. But, as my aunt and husband comforted me, I remembered not only that I needed to remain calm for my unborn little one that I just six days ago confirmed. Also, in that moment, as I said “I can’t take anymore and I have no more tears to cry”, I felt peace. We were sitting on a pier with people staring, people fishing and I’m sure people thinking we were crazy, but we didn’t care. The peace that I felt come over me was the peace in knowing that those two brothers, who left home on an adventure as young men, but were separated along the way, were just reunited that day, with their mother and he just so happened to take along “his” daughter.
That moment taught me that so many people are here that we are placed on earth to love. But, while we miss the ones who are gone, we are kept here to help and love the ones on this earth that need us. Later, I revisited that pier and as I to the end, my eyes welled up with tears. As I started to cry, I stopped my self and realized that the person standing beside me is here for me to love and the person they may be going through a similar struggle is also here for me to love. When I look back on this time, I look to the sky and thank God for the lives that in more ways than one made me better. It is because of Him that I remember the good times and can have the peace in my heart, knowing that they are now at peace with Him.