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Losing a loved one is like having the rug swept from under you. We make plans for the day, and do not think twice about how those plans can be taken away in the blink of an eye. I never thought much about it myself, until I was faced with the shock, and undeniable truth of my uncle’s death. I do not think anyone really thinks about tragedy until they are actually faced with shocking news. It is amazing how we take life for granted.
The tragedy never goes away. You just learn how to cope with it and keep moving on. My mom had been going to school in Virginia and staying at my Aunt Ana’s house. She had been away for two weeks and wanted to come home for the weekend. My mom had suggested that I go back with her and visit colleges, shop, go to movies and just spend time together. I had been feeling pretty sorry for myself since she had been gone.
I was working a great deal as a front desk clerk at the casino. I was really excited to have a week with my mom to myself. The whole ride over we were talking about what I wanted to do that week. Making plans and having “me time” seemed very important at the time.
I woke up Tuesday morning excited for the day I was going to spend with my mom. I was sitting at the kitchen table drinking fresh coffee listening to my mom and Aunt Ana joke around about how paranoid my mom was about doing well in her classes, my aunt was telling her that maybe now that I was there, she would relax a little bit and have some fun.
Our plan was to go to one of mom’s classes with her, and then on a tour of CNU and then we were going to go to dinner and a movie. We were interrupted by a phone call from my Aunt Nilsa. My mom was still joking and in a silly mood when she started talking to my aunt. Suddenly the conversation turned from joking to dead silence and my mom started crying. She tearfully asked, “Why what happened? Was he alone?” I was thinking my cousin went riding and fell off her four-wheeler or that something had happened to my grandfather. She kept on saying “OH MY GOD, NO”. Aunt Ana asked “What happened? What is going on?” And then Mom told us; Fran, my uncle was shot and he did not survive. I felt as if I was paralyzed, I felt that if I moved it would be real.
I just had this blank look on my face. I had no reaction at first and I wanted to deny it, all of it. I kept saying to myself, no it is a lie, they made a mistake. To my complete horror I was wrong. My mom kept saying “I have got to go see Fran. I need to see with my brother” My mom ran down stairs to get ready to go, I followed her and just stood there, still paralyzed. She hugged me and said that she loved me. I had never seen my mom so panicked. She went into the bathroom to take a shower and I could still hear her sobbing through the door. I was all by myself, now. I was standing in the middle of the family room as the words “He is dead” pierced my heart like daggers of ice. I was screaming OH, GOD NO, and started to cry uncontrollably. The realization that I would never see my uncle again struck me.
After I got myself under control I went and packed my things to leave with my mother. As soon as we were done we were on the next flight to New Jersey. I come from a big family with many loving aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. As I was standing there all alone I thought back to the time when I got to spend a week with Fran. Almost a year ago to the date, most of the family was together for my other uncle’s wedding. All the cousins sat at the same table and we had such a good time together. He was a busy person, he had so many things that he wanted to accomplish, but because over a little minor argument he was killed. So my chances to know my uncle better were gone. My Mom and aunt had to call everyone and tell them the tragic news. They could hardly speak without breaking down.
My Mom called Fran’s fiancée and got more of the traumatic details and then filled us in, although none of us wanted to know how he had got killed. We were all trying to figure out what to do for the funeral. We realized that the funeral would have to be held in New Jersey where my uncle had lived for the past eight years. The best and worst part of the day was when they got the pictures of him throughout his life to make a collage. One minute we were laughing at the food on his face when he was a baby and the next we were crying about how good looking he was. That evening all my family from Puerto Rico Flew in and we had a small get together.
A few days later when we were getting ready for the memorial service I managed to keep my cool until I realized why I was seeing these familiar faces. Once the service started I managed to keep my emotions in tack until I saw my grandmother break down. I could not even look up at her because I thought about how I would feel in the same situation. Your life can change drastically at any moment. Do not take life or the people that you love for granted, you are only here once. Losing my uncle a couple months ago taught me that living every day intentionally and purposefully is what I intend to strive for.
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