I often leave my phone behind when I go out for walks. I’ve become comfortable here. And now that Junior and I are down to one phone, I also don’t want to risk anything happening to it. In a beach town, your iPhone is no match for excessive sweat mixed with sunscreen, sand, dirt and salt water.
Sometimes particularly on weekends, my walks with Rebecca, Harvey and Bodhi are extended…we could walk down to the Langosta river mouth, hang there for a while and take our time walking back and easily kill a couple of hours. This particular day, we did all that plus met a new friend on the beach, who invited us and our dogs up to her house for a drink, where we consequently lost all track of time and our walk that started around 2:30 p.m. extended well into the evening, not landing us back at home until near 9. In general, I’d tell you any day that I thoroughly enjoy the separation this move has created between me and my phone…a device I was once obsessed with checking every 10 minutes is now something I could leave at home for an entire day and not miss. It’s been a welcome disconnect, and still is, unless of course someone does legitimately need to reach me.
I’ll never forget Junior’s face when I walked in the door. He was concerned because we were gone for so long and he had no way to reach me, yes, but this facial expression said more than that. Where normally I’d get an annoyed line of questioning about where we wandered off to, all I got was “Where have you been? You need to call your mom and dad, your Uncle Ricky died.”
I’ve experienced death of close loved ones in my life, several times, and not even the tallest roller coaster in the world or jumping out of an airplane hoping your parachute will open as planned can produce that same gut-dropping feeling.
In this moment, all the other times I’ve received this type of news flashed before my eyes and I felt helpless. It’s something I certainly hadn’t considered when we were planning our move, but in this moment it was all I could think about. When I would ordinarily drive home right away to be with family, all I could do was call. When my mom and her other brother and sister really needed a big hug and support from family, I wouldn’t be able to be there. And what about funeral arrangements? The thought of potentially missing my Uncle’s funeral felt like a stab to the heart, and I hadn’t even spoken with anyone yet.
This was the first time I realized that along with all the great things that have happened in our lives as a result of this move, there are also consequences. You give up a lot, and among the things you have to sacrifice is the ability to be together with your family, when family needs to be together most.
The saving grace for me was that we happened to have already had a trip planned to the U.S. beginning June 24, and I knew I’d be together with them soon.
When I called home, I learned my uncle had been found in his home; he lived in a beautiful home on a beautiful piece of land in Dewitt, MI and it was his pride and joy.
Here’s a photo of Uncle Ricky and I from the first time I met him; my parents brought me on a trip in 1988 from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Michigan to meet the family. When I see photos of his smile, I can also hear his laugh, and it makes me happy.
I found another photo of my cousin and I, out at Ricky’s house when his dog Toby was a puppy. He loved that dog. Was crazy about that dog. And now as adults, my cousin and I both have dogs we are crazy about. We come from an entire family of dog fanatics, and it makes me happy.
And one more, from our wedding day of Uncle Ricky along with my other uncles and aunt on my Mom’s side. I am so thankful he could share this day with us.
Whenever we lose someone, it’s important to remember the things about that person, or the times with that person that made you smile. Truth is, that’s what they’d want. And that’s been my peace through this experience. I know Ricky would not be upset about me being far away, because I am off creating a life I believe is best for me, and at the end of the day I think everyone deep down wishes that for the people they love, even if sometimes it means sacrificing closeness and togetherness. We all need to decide what’s best for us, in the short time we have.
RIP Rick Dolan; 5/5/55 – 6/12/15