I feel like this year I have experiences so much loss. I lost two people that meant the world to me and who I relied on more than I knew. Two people that loved me unconditionally and I loved the same.
This month Uncle Les passed away. He is not my blood uncle but was kind of like a father figure. I meant him through my sissy Jessica. Jessica and I went to high school together and worked at Arbor Village for 11 years together. I love Jessica! I love my whole crazy “family” so much! It was through her that I was adopted into her family. We would tell our residents that Uncle Les was my dad and that her mother was my stepmother. Everybody believed it because he is American so it just worked and made sense. I truly believe God places people in our lives for a reason and this family was one of them.
Uncle Les’ passing was quick. It was way too soon (in my opinion). The last week of his life I spent everyday at the hospital and would drive straight there on my days off. I got to help him in a time of severe need and be there to love him and support him and our family. The day he passed away I spent the night at the hospital with Momma Schwartz. It was rough. It was very little sleep… very little sleep. I cried seeing the pain and discomfort he was in. It hurt to see him hurt. It hurt to see everybody hurt. It was a tiring and painful experience.
I think about a week before I drove him and Momma Schwartz to a doctor’s appointment. On the way home Uncle Les grabbed my shoulder and with tears in his eyes said thank you. I started crying also and explained that it was I who needed to thank him. I confessed that I have always struggled to feel like I belonged. At no fault to anyone around me, this is 100% my own insecurities. Being around him and my Schwartz/Lucena/Gogue family in his home was somewhere I truly felt like I belonged. He told me it was because I did and it was where I was meant to be if I was not with my blood family. He told me that I am a part of his family and was his daughter and would always have a place in his home and heart. He said he was lucky Jessica brought me into his life but it is truly me that was lucky to be adopted into this family!
This was something Uncle Les was good at. He was good at loving all people and opening up himself to anyone he was around. He talked with everybody he met and flirted with even more.
He reminds me of a quote by Maya Angelou. She said:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Uncle Les made us all feel loved and welcomed and appreciated and wanted and needed.
As I spoke to the crowd at the memorial service I encouraged them to do something. We never know when it is our time to go. So as I encouraged them, I now encourage you to say you love your family and friends more, take more pictures with your loved ones, worry less, enjoy more, thank people always, and to make more memories.
Loss of loved ones is hard. I am thankful in my testimony of our Heavenly Father’s plan and to know that death is not the end.
And if we need to find a positive throughout the sadness, because of Uncle Les my “family” keeps growing bigger as I got to meet so many loving members of Marisa’s family that just allowed me to enter their arms.