Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Year Ago...

Today is a sad day for my family and me.  I have mix feelings about posting about today but in the end, I decided I needed to acknowledge why I am just so sad.  The sadness returned about a week ago in waves.  A year ago today, around 8:20 in the morning I received the call that my brother in law, Robert had died in his sleep.  He went to bed and just never woke up.  I have had dear friends, grandparents, an aunt, uncles, and a cousin pass away.  My dad always told me death is a natural cycle of life, one we will all experience.  My faith tells me it is also something we have no control over and we just need to accept it.  God calls us one day and we go.  This past year, I have struggled with acceptance.  I continue to grieve, as does my family.  I grieve for my sister and two teenage nephews who lost their dad when they needed him the most. I grieve because I will never be able to talk to brother of the heart.

When I was 4 years old, my sweet uncle, Antonio, who was just 18 years old drowned.  I can't remember his face but I remember him.  He lived with us at the time so he really was more like a big brother to me.  That was my first memory of losing someone I loved deeply.  Growing up, I believed he was my guardian angel and yes, I would talk to him when no one was around... and I believed he could hear me.  Then, as you grow older things change.  In my twenties, I lost my grandmother (Maria Valeria) and grandfather (Antonio)...I adored both of them.  They were both at my wedding and how I wish some-body had taken more pictures of them because I lost them soon after.

One of my favorite memories of Robert is at my wedding, over 20 years ago.  My sister started dating him around the time of our engagement.  On our wedding day, I was told a white limousine was waiting just outside my parents house.  I thought there had been a mistake because David and I had not rented a limo.  It was Robert.  That was his wedding gift to David and me.  The Limousine was stocked with champagne which led to helping us feel really relaxed by the time we arrived at the reception.

Robert, my sister Gaby, Tony and Santos visited us several times in recent years, during a Spring Break and Thanksgiving.   He truly was the life of the party.  He was silly and sweet.  We shared a love of music.  He loved Frank Sinatra, but also enjoyed listening to many current groups.  We both loved listening to Linkin Park and yes, I have been listening to many of those songs.  One song in particular, Leave Out All the Rest by Linkin Park makes me think of him.

I have created many scrapbooks of our family times over the years.  The tradition had been that every summer, I take lots and lots of pictures of our time in El Paso.  Those two weeks the kids and I have spent in El Paso every summer (except this one 2012) have been the best type of family bonding I have known.   Laura, Alex and I stayed with my sister Gaby, Robert, Tony and Santos for the past 6 years.  After my parents adopted a cat (who they love like he was their kid) I could no longer stay at my parents home due to my extreme allergy to cats.  I tried it and after one night, despite double doses of my allergy medicine the doctor declared I could not stay at my parents, we had to pack up to go stay with my sister.  Although I miss staying at my parents house, I loved staying with my sister and spending all that time with her and her family.  Since my sister is a teacher and Robert was a teacher as well, that allowed for our families to spend lots of quality time together since we were all on "vacation."

For my sister Gaby's birthday (June) I create a scrapbook of all the pictures from the prior summer.  I have been doing this for years.  I still owe my sister the birthday scrapbook for 2012 with the pictures from our summer in El Paso during 2011.  I have tried....but I have not been able to do it.  Looking through those pictures of our time in Albuquerque  where we all spent a day together  then we all drove to El Paso is still too painful.  The last time we were in El Paso was a year ago.  We had plans to spend the same two weeks in El Paso this past summer but my father-in law's terminal illness changed all of our plans.  This summer we were sad because we lost my father-in-law and we could not go to El Paso.  We also realized we had felt some anxiety about going to El Paso.  My son Alex (8 years old) told me it would be strange to go to El Paso, stay with my sister and know that uncle Robert would not be there.  I am not sure if we were ready for that.  Alex and I talk about Robert and he smiles when I tell him his grandpa and Robert loved to play golf.  I told Alex several years ago Robert went to Austin, he called his grandpa and they played golf together.  Alex liked that story so he and I have concluded they surely they have met up in heaven for a round of golf.

Time should make this better but in some ways it has not.  Over the years, Robert became my brother, not just a brother in law.  He became my brother in his own right, not because he married my sister.  I think one of the reasons I mourn his passing so much is because I did not realize this until the day I was told he was gone.  I wish I could of told him how much he meant to me and my kids.   I wish I could of told him that I loved him like a brother...a real brother.   I wish I could of thanked him for being a friend and supportive brother to me and a loving uncle to my kids.   He was a brother I could laugh with ...and cry with. 

A mass will be take place in El Paso this morning, in his memory.  My sister will visit the cemetery later this morning.  I asked her to relay a message from me to him....I miss you.

There are few pictures of both Robert and me together since most of the time I am behind the camera and whenever I was in the picture, he was the one usually behind the camera.  

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