A Mourning Landmark: 16 Years Ago

Today is a mourning landmark for me because 16 years ago today, my uncle died.

His painter’s brush ceased to move, but Ramón Santiago’s art was not silenced. He left a legacy of extraordinary, enigmatic and often autobiographical work that surrounds me at home. Occasionally, I catch glimpses of his work in cafe’s and shops around town, or discover someone I know is a collector of his unmistakable, figurative style.

Sixteen years ago today, I was 36 weeks pregnant. It may sound crazy, but just before I woke that morning, my uncle called me on the telephone. His lingering spirit visited me in my dream and told me everything would be all right. Later that day, I remember gently touching the papery, gray skin of his hand upon his chest. Eyes closed, cheeks slack, he looked peaceful as if he was sleeping stretched upon the couch in his home.

Sixteen years ago today, through my grief, I wrote a poem about it.  As always, I turn to writing to help me work through my problems, issues, and grief. Although writing is not for everyone, as my friend Janice reminds me, it is important to find a way to release emotions and tackle stress head-on so it doesn’t knock you off your feet when you least expect it. 

Many of us have lost someone we loved. No matter how that person died, I believe it’s important to honor their life by sharing a happy memory with others, taking a walk in the woods, lighting a candle, looking through photos, or sitting in stillness. Honoring a life doesn’t make the pain of losing a loved one any easier, but it can help you from getting stuck in the past and live in the present.

What do you think?

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