Thursday, September 1, 2016

The monkey's uncle, revisited

KAT'S NOTE: This is a repost from Sept. 1, 2009. It popped up as a memory in my Facebook newsfeed this morning, and it hit especially close to home right now as my family deals with the untimely death of my husband's older brother, Kelly. 

I will eventually write a tribute post about him, but right now it's still too hard to believe he's gone.  

I take comfort in the fact that we left nothing unsaid when it came to Kelly. He knew how much we adored him, and we are confident we will one day see him again in that giant tinkering shop in the sky. 

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I grew up on an acreage with lots and lots of cats. They were a comfort when I was lonely and needed something with which to cuddle.

I could use a fuzzy plaything right now. It's been a crazy start to the school year for my girls. Not the fun kind of crazy either. It's been the kind of crazy that makes this 30-something-year-old girl seek shelter from the world in the quilt her mom gave her for Christmas.

But I can't. My own children are looking to me for strength.

The phone pulled me from a twilight state early Saturday morning. My mom asked if my oldest daughter was home, and then she asked if we'd heard about the accident.

"The accident?" As I parroted these words, the memory of blaring sirens the night before flittered through my head. They were close to my house, and I remembered thinking -- as my youngest daughter's birthday party carried on -- that I should gather my family to pray for those being tended to.

"There was a bad accident last night and a carload of kids from Pierce were involved," my mother said.

I later discovered one of my daughter's schoolmates -- a young man just starting his junior year -- lost his life in the accident. Two young girls -- both younger than my daughter -- were seriously injured.

Over the weekend, I tried to be there for Molly as she asked questions or sat in contemplative silence.

"I just keep thinking. . . what if. . .?"

What if she had gone to the soap scrimmage at the high school? What if she'd have talked to those kids? What if talking to them would have delayed their journey away from town by even a second or two?

The what-if questions seemed endless, and at first, I didn't know how to respond.

But then I realized something...

How would she have known if her presence had changed the outcome or prevented this tragedy? Maybe her words or actions or even just her smile has made a positive impact on someone's life already.

How do any of us know when we've touched another person's life? It's like a random act of kindness paid forward. We may never know our impact on someone else's hour, someone's day or the path of someone's life.

My Uncle Al lost his battle with emphysema and COPD during the night last night. Even though I knew he wasn't well, I never took the opportunity to tell him about the impact he made on my life -- how his wit always cracked me up and how I loved how his one-line quips always one-upped my dad's. I never took the opportunity to point out the fact that whenever he told me and my cousins that we were acting like monkeys that it made him a monkey's uncle. (I know he'd have loved that one.)

I guess what I want to say is you never know how your actions could impact someone's life. And the people who impact you won't know they've touched you either unless you tell them.

So, here's an e-hug to all of you who've encouraged me in one way or another in my writing, in my music and in my life.

I appreciate the knowledge and cyber friendship that you all have offered.



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"The Long Road to Heaven" by Kathryn Harris, a story of addiction and forgiveness, is available now on Amazon.