Wish You Were Here, Uncle Dan

My usually quiet, peaceful and tidy sanctuary of a home has been turned in to a messy playground for two boisterous little boys this weekend... and I'ver never been happier to have my orderly life turned up-side-down. 

You see, Dan's sister is visiting from interstate with her husband and two young boys, aged two and four, and it's just been lovely to have his family so close.

All of Dan's family and most of his friends are based in Sydney, where he grew up and lived until moving to Brisbane for work, a year or so before we met.  Being more than 1000 kilometres away it would be easy to feel quite isolated in my mourning of him. 

However, I'm one of the very lucky widowed people who have been embraced and supported by my  in-laws.  Over the past (almost) 16 months since his death I've had regular phone calls (at least twice-weekly), more than half-a-dozen visits and have been made to feel like I'm a firm and permanent part of their family.

The boys were aged 18 months and three years when Dan died.  The oldest one remembers him well and the youngest recognises him from photos and understands he was an important person.  There have been a few challenging moments with questions about death and heaven and, as is the way of children, these are usually blunt and come at unexpected moments. 

To be honest, I love talking about Dan so this doesn't upset me, instead I like it when they bring him up.  I'm grateful that they know he was important and will grow up aware that they were very loved by him. 

We answer the questions as best we can, but it's a fine line between satisfying their curiosity and not giving them information that will scare or confuse them further, given their young age and limited understanding of how the world works. 

It's making me think about how difficult it will be when the time comes where the questions will develop, as they grow, into queries about how and why he died.  Ultimately it will be their mum and dad's decision on when Dan's suicide is explained and knowing what wonderful parents they are, I know they will handle this will tact and honesty.  My heart breaks knowing how painful this will be, both for my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, but also for my nephews. 

Dan adored these boys so much that he would get tears in his eyes when he spoke about them.  When we visited Sydney, he was bursting with excitement to see them.  His phone screen-saver was a photo of his nephews, because he missed them so much; and he couldn't wait to be the best uncle possible as they grew up - playing sports with them and giving them advice about girls.  

Seeing what good uncle he was helped me fall in love with him (not that it was difficult) and I couldn't wait for him to become a father to our own children.  I look at his nephews, one of whom inherited the same beautiful chubby cheeks and mischievous, sparkly eyes as his uncle and my heart breaks that I will never meet our children.  I'm sad that these boy won't know their uncle and we won't get to give them cousins to play with as they grow up.

I wish he'd gotten the chance to be a dad.  I wish he'd been able to live the life he deserved.  I wish he had of been here with us over the past couple of days as we visited the zoo and played at the beach, to help me spoil our nephews and give their weary parents a bit of a break. 

There are so many ways to miss him.  Today, I miss Uncle Dan and my tears are for myself, for him and for our beautiful nephews who will miss out on so much by him not being here.

On that note, it's time to pull myself together because I can hear little feet running through the house and sweet, little voices calling out 'Untie Becca, it's time to go to the markets!'


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