Most of you are aware by now that my uncle died very unexpectedly last week. He was 45 and had a wife, Christy, and two sons, Jacob, 14 and Sean ,17. Uncle Billy was my favorite uncle and definitely the uncle that I spent the most time with growing up. He was only 18 when I was born (my dad is 14 years older than he), and I have great early memories of riding around my grandmother's house on his shoulders. He also used to take my sister and me "exploring" in a wooded lot that backed up to my grandmother's house. I'm sure it was only about an acre, or so, but it felt like a great adventure to us!
We were so excited when he married my aunt Christy--she was so young and hip (she still is even though she's a GREAT aunt now!). Sarah and I were flower girls in their wedding with stylish peach dresses with white lace. I always looked forward to their visits--especially when they had Sean and Jacob. I was touched when he and Christy came to Tulsa for my college graduation and not just because they gave me money ;)
The last time I saw Billy is when he, Christy and Jacob came to see us in the hospital when Reid was born. They had just come from a baseball game, and they brought Reid his first camoflage outfit. However, Billy and I had a newfound relationship on Facebook. We frequently commented on each others status updates and pictures. In face, I think I had just read one of his updates on Saturday morning.
So when my dad called on Saturday afternoon to let me know my uncle had had a seizure and was at the hospital, I was concerned, but I figured he'd be fine. He'd been diagnosed with epilepsy about 5 years ago but his seizures were well-managed with medication. My dad wanted Sarah and I to go up to the hospital and check on Christy and the boys and to see how Billy was doing. We were about to have a pool party at our house, and we decided not to cancel it. I assumed I'd get up to the hospital around the time Billy was being released, see if the family needed anything and make it back in time to see Reid in his swim suit for the first time.
Imagine my shock when, minutes after arriving at the hospital, the doctor informed us that my uncle was brain dead with a slim chance of survival. I was shocked! Nine days later, I'm still shocked. I can't believe he's gone. He was Facebooking on Saturday morning, for crying out loud.
I've always known that Billy was a wonderful uncle. I also knew he was a terrific husband and father. Over the last week, I have learned so much about him that I didn't know. I've learned that he has numerous fiercely loyal friends. Many of Sean and Jacob's friends were also very close to Billy and spent countless hours in the ICU waiting room. Former co-workers, high school friends, college buddies, friends from church...last week I met so many people who loved my uncle. Hundreds of people showed up at his visitation and funeral, and I was so proud to tell them that Billy was my uncle.
One quick picture--when Billy , Christy and Jacob came to see us in the hospital. That bundle of blankets is tiny baby Reid!
3 months ago