My uncle died last week.
After 10 weeks of pain, morphine, anguish and fighting, he lost his battle with cancer and let go last Wednesday night.
Mum and I travelled to Durban this week for the funeral and memorial services. How harrowing to see his kids cry, uncomprehending and numb with bewilderment. Uncomfortable with this father-shaped hole that will shape their lives. So heartbreaking to see his wife, trying to be strong and so determined to keep it together, just crumple with grief. How incredible to see a church filled to capacity with people who came from all over the country and abroad to show Mark’s family how much he was respected and loved by his community and friends.
Loyal to fault, fierce in his love for his wife and his boys, family orientated. Over and over this week I heard he was a man to be relied on, a man of honour and steadfastness. A man who made friends and kept them for a lifetime.
I was reminded again that life is circular. When I was born, Mum made Markie my guardian; a job he joked was too much for just one man. But it was a role he didn’t discard when I was old enough to look after myself. He kept an eye on me. Our relationship was largely one of greetings and small talk. But when my life faltered, he was always the first to offer a hand. And when his children were born, he made me godmother to one, and then defacto godmother to the others.
And so, when I feel overwhelmed with the enormity of what his three incredible children will have to go through. When I worry that I will be distracted by the minutia of my life while the boys walk this path a thousand miles away. I will remember that, in whatever way I can, I will love them. That I will help them to remember him. I will keep my promise to Mark; that his boys will know how his life was defined and measured by his role as their father. That his greatest concern in facing death was how it would affect them. That his boys will know how much he loved them.
Travel well, my Markie. I will miss you.