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In Loving Memory of

It's hard to come up with anything to say after a loved one passes away.

There's this huge void, yet life is continuing without them, too.

I had to sleep in my mom's room the night Buna Mary passed away. Of course, you don't really sleep--you're just there, thinking you can't even do what comes most natural.

There's this grandfather clock in our dining room that dings every hour. That night I caught every single ding, wide-awake.

The next day I took the batteries out.


That grandfather clock was a present to Buna Mary from Grandma Pat and Uncle Gene. You remember them, right? They are our adoptive American grandparents, the ones who took us in when my family first came to America. Uncle Gene who didn't want to ever be called Grandpa Gene.

A week ago, Uncle Gene passed away. I found myself not knowing what to say again.

I get upset that people only talk about heaven only after someone dies. That makes me not want to talk about heaven. What about all the other times? What about when heaven is here and now?

You know, even when we're broken people with broken relationships in a broken world, there are glimpses of what's right, what's to come. Pieces of heaven.

That's what we talked about with Uncle Gene a month ago when we visited him in the nursing home in the Alzheimer unit.

Amid all that sadness, of a place people go when they lose their memory (and what exactly are we without our memories?), he remembered us when he saw us. He remembered the same pieces of heaven I remembered.

The thing about death, is that you think it's all gone. That's it, a life is over. What I've come to understand as a Christian is that it is a continuation and whatever you were scrambling to do with your life here on earth is in its infinite, perfect, final form in heaven.

All the pieces of heaven that started here become a whole picture there. You don't lose anyone, just temporarily. You've mustered up the courage to love someone, and love things about them despite their shortcomings, despite your own shortcomings. You did all that when they were just temporary and incomplete. Just as you are.

And one day--with snippets of it now--heaven will come down on all of us. Thank God.

In loving memory of, but with joyful eagerness to see you again as you really are, Eugene Kubiak, March 1, 1935-December 15, 2018.

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