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On Monday morning, May 6, 2013, my mother-in-law called, she began to explain that my husband’s Uncle had passed away that morning around 9:00. She said he’d been on oxygen for three days and the doctor suspected he’d suffered another heart attack, as he’d had a mild one about a month ago that led to him being cared for in a local nursing home, with the intention of getting him ready to return home.

I made the decision not to call my husband at work, as I knew it would hit him hard, just learning that his Uncle was in the nursing home had caused him to collapse in tears (his Uncle had been a very energetic and active man, even into his eighties). I didn’t want him to try to drive home in an emotional state and knew there was nothing he could do even if he were to come home. His mother also suggested telling him when he got home from work.

She told me she had no information about arrangements and would get back to us as soon as she knew something.

I thought about it for a while and decided to call him off work that night, knowing he was going to take it hard.

I waited out on the swing, with Kodi, for my husband to get home from work. When he pulled in he sat down on the swing and said, “Ok, what’s going on?” because he knew I usually was cooking dinner when he came home, seeing as how he works a part-time job two nights a week and time is tight between him getting home from his first shift job and leaving to get to his second.

I decided the best way to handle it was to just tell him, if I beat around the bush he would get upset with me and frustrated. In this case, tearing the band-aid off in one quick motion was the best way to handle the situation.

As soon as I uttered the words, he collapsed in tears… he just folded up, slumped over and sobbed. He immediately started beating himself up, saying he could have gone and visited him more. I told him I didn’t want to hear that, I didn’t want him beating himself up like that, that he had gone and visited when he could, he’d run an errand for him, he’d kept in contact, but that his Uncle knew he worked two jobs, that he had responsibilities here at home that taxed his time.

When he was finally able to take a breath I suggested we come inside and he call his mother, he could get details from her and maybe talking to her would help ease his mind a little.

Yesterday his mother called him with details about the arrangements that his Uncle had previously made (seeing as how his wife had passed years ago and he had no children), asking him if he wanted to be a pall-bearer, along with his sister, brother-in-law and youngest niece’s husband. He told her yes. She told him it was going to be a military funeral, as his Uncle had served in the Navy.

Then his mother did something I found reprehensible. She began scolding him. She said, “This is your Uncle’s day, it’s about him, do you understand me?” She was referring to the rift between us and his sister and our nieces, as if to suggest he would make trouble at the funeral. One must know my husband to know he is not like that at all… he’s the kind of person who tries to make peace, who swallows his pride and pain to not be responsible for rocking the boat. He lets people walk on him, particularly his family.

He told her he would be civil. He would be there to honor his Uncle, not rehash family nonsense.

My husband and I had already discussed that as much as I love him, support him and care for him, I could not attend the viewing or funeral. I know, for my own emotional well-being, that I cannot expose myself to his sister nor our nieces. The pain inflicted by them over the years has made it difficult for me to not react emotionally when I see them. The last time I found myself confronted by my sister-in-law resulted in an anxiety attack that triggered an asthma attack.

We also discussed that because of my disability, he would have to tend to me, push my wheelchair (as it’s an old model and neither of us can move it ourselves while sitting in it), and that would definitely not go over well with his family. He told me he fully understood and supported my decision to protect myself. He knows I want nothing more than to be there for him, but in this circumstance, it’s just not wise.

I will miss my husband’s Uncle. I greatly enjoyed his stories, his sense of humor. He always called me his “sweetie” when he came over for dinner or to watch a football game. I’m glad we got to spend so much time with him, when he was coming over to eat with us every other weekend, that we got to have him here for Thanksgiving, etc. He lived a long and full life and always treated my husband well. I will gladly mourn his loss from the outside looking in, so as to make his family easier for my husband to deal with.