Finding the Right Words

Dear Olivia,

It isn’t easy to share with people who haven’t heard that you’re gone. I weathered the grocery store today and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t run into anyone we knew, but that we also wouldn’t be asked by the store employees where you were. We live in a small town. People notice our family, and whenever I’m out running errands by myself people I don’t even know ask how my children or family is doing. You can imagine the strange look on my face when someone I don’t know asks how my family is, but honestly I’ve gotten use to it living here. It’s been nice. It means that people care or are curious and up until now I’ve been okay with that. The person I’m finding most difficult to explain your passing to is Uncle Larry.

Larry didn’t like when my mom passed away. He put his foot down when it came to attending her service. He just wouldn’t do it. He’s okay going to visit her grave, take her flower and even have a picnic lunch with me there now, but it took a while. I don’t know what death means to him. I’ve asked him and he’s said yes, so I just leave it at that. Explaining to him that you passed away is going to much harder. He loves you more than anything. The two of you have had such a special connection. He never questioned why you didn’t talk. He just enjoyed talking to you and making you smile. He calls our house every weekend like clockwork and I’ve picked up, but have been too emotional to consider explaining. He knows I’m upset, really upset, but I’m struggling with how to to him.

We’ve had people in our family pass away, but never as young as Olivia. My guess is that Larry understands that people die when they get old, but he may not fully get what “old” means. He might believe that it’s when you’re an adult. When I try to explain to him that you died he’s probably going to be confused, and he may ask me some questions that I’m not ready to answer.

I’ve avoided his calls this weekend. Maybe someone else already told him. I’m just not ready to talk to him about it. He’s the only other person with a Intellectual/Developmental Disability in our family and that somehow makes it that much more difficult for me to tell him. Like everyone else, he’s going to miss you. He’s going to miss your visits, holding your hand and walking you around and the bond you both shared. Most of all, he’s going to miss your easy going personality that never made him feel different and defined him as your proud Uncle Larry.

Not having you here hasn’t gotten any easier.

I love you.



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