Tuesday, February 4, 2014

It's not Goodbye, just see you on the Other Side

Michael Leonardis 

8/11/67 - 1/4/2014 

Just a few days after Christmas, my Uncle Michael went into the hospital. In an unexpected turn of events, 
things took a very strong turn for the worse. Modern medicine does miraculous things, but it isn't an exact science, we quickly learned. I used to think about cases that you see on television, cases like Terri Shiavo or even Jahi McMath, which I was following in the weeks before our family stood around a bed faced with a far too familiar situation. I could have never imagined just how difficult a situation it is. 

Uncle Michael was just ten years older then me. 
So many childhood memories included him.  
He had a way with kids that just could not be explained. 
 (Us together 1980ish) 

Zoey was very close with him. They had a special bond. 
When Zoey was having great difficulty with her anxiety, she would not open up to many, but she opened up to him. When she was too afraid to go into grandpa's house where he lived, he would come out to my car in the driveway and spend time with her. He understood her. 

After a week in the hospital, the family together day and night, searching and praying for a miracle, it was  time for us to say goodbye. We found comfort and support in each other, and in music, and in the memories. Laughter sometimes came in between the tears, as we all waded through this unfamiliar place. We had all lost someone we loved before, but none of us had ever known that the moment we would lose someone was just moments away, and that we would need to be strong, that we would be there to tell them it was ok to let Jesus carry him home. 

We spent those last hours playing his favorite music, all of the classics, the ones that he could strum out on his guitar just as good, maybe better, then the original artists. 

Our families love language is music. 

 We grew up with it. 

And we played every song that we could remember. 

And the music gave us strength. 

Van Halen. 

Guns -N - Roses 

I wish the music didn't have to end. 
I wish we could go back just one more time. 
One last jam session. 
One last horse shoe game. 
One last anything. 

I am not sure how we all found the strength in those last moments, but the moment strengthened us all, individually and as a family unit.   It changed us. 

We all held onto him as he took his last breath, and knew that he was safely home. 
We knew that he would be greeted by all those that we loved and lost before him, that he was at peace, in a place far better than here. 

Then I came home. The kids were asleep. 
Zoey woke shortly after and told me that she was dreaming of  Uncle Michael. 
She knew little of what was going on in the prior days. 
She told me he is in heaven now, with his mommy. 
She never knew my grandmother, she passed when I was twelve. 
I can only believe, that he sent a sign, that he was safely home. 

Father Ken remarked at his service that it was so admirable to see that he was never alone. Whenever he came to the hospital, no matter the time, his room was always filled with those who loved him. We might not have a large family, but we sure do have a mighty one, and I am incredibly blessed to be a part of it. 

We all miss him terribly. 

We know that he is at peace. 

We know that we will see him again, one day. 

Tomorrow isn't guaranteed to any of us. 
We have to make the most of every single day, every single moment. 

♦ And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. ~Abraham Lincoln


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