As those people who read my writing might be aware, I don’t really write that much about my personal family life. There’s not really any particular reason for that, except for the thought that I guess there are veils that I prefer to keep on certain things depending on the audience. Plus, the internet is already full of heavy and glum things to read about, and I’ve always preferred to try and write about less serious and more whimsical things, or at least dunk on all of the stupid shit that the City of Atlanta or State of Georgia does.
But after the third death in the last six weeks, the prevalent thought in my head is just how brutally absolute that the whole rule of three really seems sometimes. I forewent my bachelor party due to a death in the family of someone very close to me, and as much as it probably would’ve been great to get smashed in Vegas and piss away a few hundred dollars, it was more important to be with my brother in a tragic time. A week later, there was a death in the family of mythical fiancée, and although this one was kind of anticipated due to obvious circumstances, a passing is a passing, and it’s no less sad because we could see it coming.
This morning, I found out that an uncle of mine passed away. Which, to me was kind of a surprise, but at the same time kind of wasn’t. I knew his health was deteriorating, but it’s been quite a few years since he had a quintuple (read: five) bypass, so it always just seemed like he survived a tough ordeal and was on his way to simply living out the rest of his life in relative normalcy. He watched both his sons grow up, get married and father their own kids, becoming a grandfather four times over.
My family has this group chat that I regularly keep my eye on, to see general chatter amongst my cousins and aunts. I had seen that he had been admitted to the hospital due to a complication in regards to an artery, but according to the chat, it seemed like he made it through, and I’d see pictures of him sitting back and reading the paper, or when he was out on a walker doing physical therapy. I felt some relief that it looked like he was on the mend.
But then I get some messages from one of my cousins, telling me that they’re not going to be able to make it to the wedding, on account of my uncle’s hospitalization. And although I’m disappointed losing headcount this close to the wedding, if there was any reason that could be justified and understood, this was it. I called my mom, because I wanted more details, and it turns out that he’s doing way worse than the family chat made it seem like. He was mostly immobile, relying on an oxygen machine in order to breathe, and the kicker was that the only times he wasn’t actively in pain was whenever the morphine kicked in.
And then this morning, I get a call at a very unusual 6 a.m., and I knew the news was not going to be good. Just like that, right after talking about him the night prior, he was gone.
Since it’s so fresh, I have no idea what the next few days are going to be like in terms of a service or funeral. All I know is that the likelihood of me going to another funeral is pretty good, provided flight availability isn’t catastrophic.
I couldn’t help but think about how the rule of three came into play again here, but this wasn’t like professional wrestlers, athletes or nostalgic celebrities. These were people that were entwined with people in my everyday life that were passing, which means it was hitting home just that much harder, because I’m seeing the sadness and grief affecting people right in front of me, and enduring the helpless feeling that there’s nothing at all that can be done to snap them out of it.
It’s scary just how seemingly absolute and inevitable the rule of three tends to be. After the first two funerals, I can’t say that the thought didn’t cross my mind, but I couldn’t help but feel this sinking feeling when I found out that my uncle was going to the hospital. I’m not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination, I’ve long since walked away from my Catholic upbringing. But much of my extended family are, and watching and reading them talk about the prayers they were having for the family, and then the initial news that my uncle’s surgery was successful gave promise that maybe things were headed in the right direction, and there just might be reward for those with faith, as long as they’re good people.
But as stated, there was way more to the story than what was made available in an online group chat, and now the inevitable third is gone. The rule of three strikes again, but it’s unfortunately a little too close to home this time.
Let’s just hope that it’s done now, and that the people in my world can not have to go to any more funerals this year.