“I think it’s time. The end is here,” unexpectedly replied my aunt Sunday afternoon one year ago. That day I had gone to visit my uncle and aunt hoping to bring joy to their home. My uncle had been ill for nine months and fighting for his life. It never dawned on me in my wildest dreams, that I would be holding my cousin’s hand as she said her last goodbye to her father on that very same March day. My aunt held her strength as my beautiful cousins, three girls, valiantly and respectfully witnessed their father take his last breath.
March 7th, 2010 was the day that marked Uncle Doug’s passing. March 7th is a hard day for me to forget, for it is my birthday. What does it mean when you witness death on the day of your birth? At the time, I wondered how this event would become relevant to my existance. More importantly, I wondered why I had been chosen to experience this loss on the very same day that I was celebrating my birthday. Sometimes those answers only come to us after time has been on our side and we can reflect back to moments in our lives that has changed us deeply and yet inspired us at the same time.
I can still remember my sweet aunt’s force of calm that she imbued within all of us on that sacred day. There was no screaming, no pouring of melodramatic emotions, just a poignant stillness of acceptance that my cousins and my aunt embraced with grace, dignity and courageous strength. They cried with poise and honored his passing with humble reverance. It was only four months before my own father’s passing, and as I reflect back to that moment my uncle’s soul departed from this earth, I am prompted to recognize the rolemodels that I had the privilege of observing on that sunny March 7th day that modeled the same strength I would need to preserve.
After spending much time with this, I have come to see that day as one of the greatest gifts of personal transformation. That day I was forced to see life with delicate ever evolving awe. My aunt and cousins prepared me for my own loss that I would inevitably be facing only four short months later. Having my uncle’s yartzheit on my birthday will forever link me to them in a very intimate way as we will forever share the celebration of life and the paradoxic humbling observance of loss. In honor of my birthday, the day that recognizes my own unique contribution to the world, I’d like to share it by recognizing my uncle’s contribution that clearly was the beautiful legacy he left behind- four beautiful women who in their own unique way have paved the path in helping me embrace my own loss, which I am forever grateful for.
**This year’s essay is written in memory of my uncle Doug Marks, father, husband and artist and the many lost in today’s tragic Japan earthquake.