I love Miami
I love the heat, I love the constant sunshine, I love sitting in my stepmom's backyard, and I just love spending time with my family.
Under better circumstances, I'd fly from my busy city life to relax for a week or two. This visit however was more oriented towards the celebration of a life that was lost approximately a week ago. While this is not the first time that I flew down here for those circumstances, I this time there was something drastically different.
I didn't get to say goodbye.
When my aunt passed away, I felt as if I already 'closed' all the conversations I had with her. I felt at peace with her passing and while I was still an emotional rollercoaster, I didn't have any plans of how I wanted to connect with her, nor did I have any unanswered questions that only she had the answers to.
Or at least I thought I was complete.
I went to the Landmark Forum a few weeks ago, it was pretty life-changing. While I was there, we were encouraged to connect with relatives and 'complete' our conversations and gripes with them. I focused mostly on my father during that event, but in the back of my mind I also wanted to reach out to my uncle. I realized that while I had lost my chance with my aunt, I still had a chance with my uncle who loved her dearly and was married with her for 51 years.
How many of you procrastinate?
I do. Unfortunately I do all the time.
I thought I had more time. The truth was that I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to just come out of nowhere and call him randomly to suddenly connect with him. I didn't think he'd accept my random phone call. I didn't know what to say. I still don't know what I would have said.
I thought about purchasing a postcard from one of the many vendors in New York City and sending it to my uncle's house. I never got around to buying the postcard. I never got around to getting a hold of his address.
I just kept thinking, never doing
When my uncle passed, I realized that I had no time left. Not with him at least. I quickly informed my co-workers and I let them know I was flying down to Miami. I bought my tickets and then came down on Wednesday night.
I hung out with my father on Thursday in the early afternoon. We sat down together in my stepmom's backyard and we chatted about my uncle, my aunt, their journey of how they left Cuba and eventually settled in Miami. I got more information on my father, my grandfather, and our family history in general.
I felt warm and it was not just the Miami heat. The warmth I felt was being with my dad and being connected with him.
I wasn't just thinking about having that conversation with him, I was actually having it.
On Friday, I went to my uncle's wake. Seeing him made me burst into tears multiple times and I apologized to him profusely for not opening up to him and talking to him as I did with my father the day prior. I spoke to my cousins, I spoke to family friends, I spoke with everyone I could.
The room was warm and full of love
My cousins told me that when my uncle knew his last day was coming, he requested for all his close friends over the years to stop by the hospital. It was a party with people from his generation gathered together to make jokes, to 'pop wheelies' on wheelchairs, and generally have a great old Cuban fiesta. My uncle was surrounded by love and nothing could make me happier to know that.
I'll probably still feel uncomfortable, shy, and awkward when it comes to reaching out to people. I'll still find reasons to procrastinate and be an awkward penguin. But I'm going to try more. I'm going to try to reach out to people and connect with them while they are still alive and breathing instead of waiting till it's too late.
My family in Miami loves me. There's no doubt about it. Despite my age difference with my cousins and my age difference with my second cousins, they still care and are interested in learning more about me as I am learning about them.
I have plenty of friends on FaceBook, many whom I like their statuses and smile whenever they appear on my timeline. I reach out to a grand total of zero of them because I always feel so awkward about coming out of nowhere. But I need to start putting that feeling away and just be active about wanting to connect with them. Even if its just to say 'hello'.
There are so many people that I love from afar. There's so many people that I root for as I see their struggles and their accomplishments. I love them dearly and I'm sure a majority of them are not even aware of it.
It's sad, but that's exactly how I felt for my uncle and I'm just starting to realize that that's how I feel about a lot of people in my life. I'm always consumed with work, my own life, and my awkwardness that I don't put the effort to actively connect. I convince myself that it's just okay that I love them from afar, but that's not true.
I need to live life, not just read about it
I'm sure I'm not the only one and that's why I'm sharing this lesson. In this age of social media, we scroll through our feeds, like random statuses and passively find out about people and their lives. We only get to see what they show and sometimes its not even the whole truth.
We will never truely connect with one another if we continue living this way. It's a little heartbreaking and that's why I want to overcome it. I hope my little tale has helped you in some way, shape, or form.