Nine days ago Lynn Hughes, my uncle, died. He had been fighting cancer, but that is not how I remember him.
I remember him strong and energetic. I remember him always having just finished some project or about to start another. I remember him coming back from runs and finishing his peanut butter on multi-grain bread toast as I was waking up. I remember his commanding, football coach voice. Above all, I remember his intensity. He focused on whatever he was doing in a way that seemed impenetrable at times. There are not many people like that. I will continue to remember him as someone who was intentional and open, and I will strive to embody these traits.
I know that eventually the pain of this wound will subside.
A year and a half ago when my granddad died, I wrote and drank out of grief. The night before my granddad’s memorial, we were all gathered at my aunt & uncle’s and at some point my Uncle Lynn started pouring straight vodka. I drank and drank because it was the only way to express my grief and because in their home I felt intensely safe. I have never been so sick in my life as I was the next morning, but I wouldn’t take any of it back. Things had shifted and suddenly I was sure of my family bonds.
Being adopted can do strange things to a person, and for all the love my family offered me, until very recently I still felt apart. That Uncle Lynn (not to mention my whole family) never treated me as if I were different was entirely lost on me until the difficulties of the last year began to settle in. Growing up, my life was laced with ramifications of trusting too much, which was exacerbated by being someone who always veers towards being trustful. It was much easier and safer for me to distrust everyone because I had no tools, not enough experience, to be able to differentiate the people who wanted to use me from the people who were invested in my well being.
Now that I am growing older and gathering experience, I am beginning to see what I have more clearly. And, like when my granddad died, I again find myself in a place of gratitude for having been given the chance to know such an inspiring person. However, for now that gratitude is shrouded by an acute grief for this bittersweet and encompassing loss.
For Lynn Hughes. You are missed and loved.