“Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.”

When I was growing up, there were the aunties. Auntie Clara and Auntie Madeline are the two I remember. Auntie Madeline was my grandmother’s sister. She always played the piano at parties, and everyone sang along. Singing was traditional at all family parties. I can see still the crowd in the kitchen at my parent’s house singing St. Patrick’s Day songs. My father stood by the counter, and I loved to listen to him sing. He had a great voice as did my mother.

In time, my parents and their siblings became the aunties and uncles. My mother had seven siblings, my father two. My Uncle Jack led the chorus in the kitchen. He loved Bing and thought of himself as a vocal kin. He’d get a ride from one of his kids every Friday to my parents’ house. They played games and sang in the kitchen as always. Once in a while, on a Friday, I’d get a late call. I’d pick up the phone and hear, “Leenie, Leenie,” which my uncle called me. We’d chat a bit then he’d ask if I wanted a song. I always said yes. When I was in Ghana, my sister put together a mixed tape of songs from the radio so I’d know what was new. When I listened, all of a sudden I heard my Uncle Jack singing a Bing song. He had seen my sister taping and wanted in. It was the most wonderful surprise.

My cousins and my siblings are now the aunties and uncles with grown children and grands. I am Aunt Kat.

Yesterday my phone rang at 8:15. The machine came on before I could pick it up. My sister left a message, and her voice alerted me that something horrible must have happened. I thought my Uncle Jack had passed, but it wasn’t Uncle Jack. It was my nephew Michael who had turned 39 last week. My brother, his father, found him. Michael was my godson. I have no words. I forget for a minute then I remember. I didn’t think this year could get worse. I was so very wrong.

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29 Comments on ““Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.””

  1. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing a child at any age is terrible, but at 39 it’s worse because that’s not even considered middle age theses days. Yes, just when you think things couldn’t possibly get any worse, then the world kicks you in the ass. 🙁 Now the problems that have been plaguing the world have come to your doorstep and become real. Please, accept my sincerest condolences.

    My family have absolutely no talent for singing. We all sing every song in the key of Q. Which means QUIT singing you’re hurting my ears. The only instrument I can play is my iPhone. 🙂 My son has mastered the guitar but he sings in a monotone like the rest of us.

    Today is cloudy, chilly and feels even colder because it’s a damp cold. Currently it’s 45° and we won’t get out of the high 40°s all day. Warmer weather is on the horizon for this weekend and next week.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      When I was in the third grade, the nun told me to mime the words. Later, when I was in my teens, I was singing at a family party when my aunt told me I was way off key and spoiling the song. Now, I sing in the car and alone at home because I join you in the no talent for singing group.

      Michael was a great guy. He was funny and generous and sweet. All I keep saying is this isn’t fair. This is the worst year.

      It is cold, only in the low, very low, 50’s. It is a muted sun. Tonight will get down to the 30’s again, and that will the pattern for the next few days. I had to buy the Christmas books for the grand today so I did go. I was cold!

  2. Christer. Says:

    I’m so sorry for Your loss! 39 is way too early!

    My family only met at Chrostmas and easter and that was really two times too much since they never got along. We grandchildren meet even less and I guess that’w ahy we all still like each other 🙂

    Take care.

    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Thanks, Christer
      I did a couple of errands and all I could think of is how wrong this is. Mike had a whole life to live and love.

      I’m still at a loss for words.

      Have a good day!

  3. hedley Says:

    Kat, I am so sorry to ready this. my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family

    • katry Says:

      Thank you, My Dear Hedley.

      All of us are beyond shocked. We do need those prayers!

  4. Caryn Says:

    Kat, I’m so sorry for the loss of your godson and nephew. That is far too young. 2020 has been a horrible year.

  5. Pat Strachan Says:

    Hey Kath,

    Wish I had some magic words to ease your pain, but there aren’t any. Sorry for you and your family. Been there and know how hard this is. Lots of hugs and prayers for all of you.

    Pat

    • katry Says:

      Thanks, Pat, for all the hugs and prayers. We All need it right now.

      I just keep thinking how wrong this is. It can’t be my Michael.

      If you find the magic word, just let me know. It will become my mantra.

  6. Paul Says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss.

  7. lilydark Says:

    Kat,
    I am so very sorry about your godson and nephew. My deepest condolences. As, you know I had one of those calls in late Nov. He was just too young to leave this world. This has been an awful year.
    Much Love,
    Lori and Cookie

    • katry Says:

      Lori,
      I remember the horrific news you got. I was so sorry.

      Mike was definitely too young. This has devastated all of us.

  8. Pat Korean DiFranco Says:

    Kathy, I am so sorry for your loss. There truly are no words to express the pain and the sorrow of losing someone so young. I hope the love you share with your family will help you all through this sad time.

    Pat Lordan DiFranco

    • katry Says:

      Pat,

      Thanks so much!

      We all are keeping in touch. We call each other to see how everyone is doing. It is so difficult to wrap my head around.

      I’m was thinking you have a unique middle name!

  9. Pat DiFranco Says:

    Spell check strikes! Pat Lordan not Pat Korean

    • katry Says:

      Pat,
      I hate spell check and never use it. It kept changing my words and didn’t differentiate between homonyms too well. Now I just hope I catch the spelling.

  10. Birgit Says:

    I’m so sorry, 39 is unbelievably young. Thoughts to you and your family, sending a virtual hug. Too bad your friends can’t be near you.

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      Mike was a great guy. He laughed loud and often. I look at that picture,and it perfectly captures Mike.

  11. im6 Says:

    I’m often at a loss for words during the best of times. It’s even worse in sad occasions such as this. Thirty-nine is nothing these days. I was only getting started at that age. My sincere condolences to you, your brother and his family.

    • katry Says:

      im6,
      Thank you!

      I talked a long time today with Tim, Mike’s brother. He is handling this so amazingly well and is the one who made phone calls and arrangements.

      Thirty-nine is far too young. Mike had so much like in him. My Mike!

  12. Lurker Says:

    I am a lurker and only come here sporadically because I appreciate you writing style. The world can be a painful place and in the end….All we have is love and music. Thanks for sharing both.

  13. Rowen Says:

    What terrible news. My deepest sympathy.

  14. lilydark Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I left another message, which didn’t seem go thru. I think you might remember Kari Soux, mom of the Earthangels from CLAW. I still keep in touch with her and we say we keep each other in a “bubble”
    that has love and healing in it during bad times. I want to know that you are always in my bubble. You know how to get in touch with me, and when you are ready, please do.
    Again, my deepest sympathy on your loss.

    Much Love,
    Lori and Cookie

  15. Lisa Says:

    Now I know why my Mom would sit down at a piano and sing at any opportunity. So sorry for your loss. Life truly is hard.

    • katry Says:

      Lisa,
      Thank you. It is a strange thing to have him gone.

      I can still see everyone around the piano at my uncle’s house. I framed it in my memory.


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