Life's a funny old thing isn't it? One minute you think everything is ticking along just hunky dory and then WHAM! you hit a dip on the rollercoaster and suddenly everything feels very different. My latest dip came about a week and a half ago when we found out that my Uncle Stuart had died very suddenly in his sleep. My Mum's little brother, something none of us could have ever anticipated in the slightest. You just can't prepare for a thing like that, something I sadly learnt last year when my Auntie Jackie passed away in much the same way. One day everything is fine, you think you know what the next days, weeks and months will bring, and then in the blink of an eye, your life and idea of 'normal' is turned on its head.
In the last seven years I've lost 5 close family members and have watched my already small family shrink quite dramatically. Family photos become less crowded, fewer spaces at the dinner table are needed and things are never quite the same again. A friend of my Uncle's who I met at the funeral yesterday said to us "you always know death is going to happen in the end, but you never for a second think of it happening to the important people in your life" which I think sums up human nature perfectly. A consequence of living is always going to involve an ending but its something we, as caring human beings, don't ever want to imagine as it seems impossible to picture a world without our nearest and dearest. When the inevitable does happen, its heartbreaking as you know that things are never going to quite be the same again. With the case of my Uncle it has hit with a sudden realisation that our annual trips to Edinburgh with him as our unofficial tour guide are no more. Yes, we may still visit the city from time to time but we're never going to walk down the street with my Uncle taking photographs of anything and everything (and his confidence in striding up to a disguised, grumpy looking Eddie Izzard and charming him into posing for a photo...) taking us to ridiculously posh cocktail bars in the New Town when we were all dressed in walking gear and showing us thousands of little things we'd never in a million years have found on our own.
Although really emotional, Stuart's funeral was inspirational. My Uncle didn't lead a particularly extraordinary life but his kindness, creativity and sense of fun clearly touched a lot of people, so much so that they had to upgrade us to the bigger chapel five minutes before the service was due to start as there'd have been about double the amount of people for the capacity of the original venue. Stuart clearly brought a smile to everyone he'd ever met and although his life was cut short long before it should have been, it was comforting to realise how happy he made people and how much they meant to him too.
That's what I'm trying to take away from all of this, the idea of making the most of every second you do have on this Earth, making sure you make other people happy and make yourself happy too as really those are the things we have to live for. Life is there to be enjoyed and not wasted, we owe that to the ones who aren't there to share the party with us at least.
(this one's for you Uncle Stuart)