Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Commemorating an Uncle...

Tad S. Taylor (2.22.1950 - 9.7.2007)

My uncle died last week at 57 years of age. Tad Taylor (my mom's younger brother and a very well-liked man) had an infectious, rhythmic laugh, an ever-present sense of humor, a trademark bald head, and scores of friends and family members who are heavy with pain at his unexpected & abrupt departure. Tad was an incredible fisherman who taught me how to fly fish on the Madison River in Montana and gave me my first fly rod years ago. He was the kind of fun-lovin' uncle that seemed to always have a different nickname for me (although he generally referred to me as "turkey-lips":-), and wouldn't hesitate to hop on the Xbox with my brother & me for a quick game of Halo when visiting from Texas for Thanksgiving. While the burden of his death is heaviest on people such as his wife, his children, and my mom, I'm also going to miss him as I find myself wishing that I had valued our relationship more while he was still around.

Death confuses me. It is an incredibly disruptive force. It raises so many questions, and yet, for those of us who remain it also brings certain aspects of our lives sharply into focus.

Death is certain... unavoidable... unpredictable.

I felt the gravity of this fact as I rocked my baby in my arms during Tad's funeral. Shea's eyes shine with wonder as she experiences all sorts of "firsts" each day, while at the same time we found ourselves contemplating how Tad's journey has drawn to a close. This is a finite journey that we're all experiencing. (Of course many of us have faith in a larger reality, but my thoughts here are limited to our experiences that are constrained by time) All of us, including my daughter, are facing a quantifiable number of days on this earth... and this is a sobering thought for me. And what's more, as I transition fully into adulthood, the departure of those near to me will only increase in frequency as time progresses. I don't like that... but I can't hide from it either.

Accordingly, I don't think I give death enough thought, especially for something that is such a huge component of being a member of the human race. It seems that we should strive to maintain some sort of balance in our living when it comes to these realizations: embracing our mortality, and the mortality of those around us, to a degree that helps us appreciate and optimize the present without being scared of the future. I need to work on this.

As was said at Tad's funeral, "What love leaves behind far exceeds what death can take away."

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