One day last week a teacher at school asked me how I knew a particular person. I replied that she’s my aunt. How do you know her?
Her ex husband is besties with my cousin, that aunt’s younger son. And she’s known him since she was a teenager.
The teacher asked quietly if I’d spoken to my aunt or uncle lately.
In all honestly, I hadn’t spoken to them since my dad died in 2014.
(Here’s where a bit of backstory is important…
My dad was adopted when he was five year old.
The family who adopted him also had loads of foster kids.
This aunt is married to one of those foster kids. So even though I’m not blood kin to any of these people, that’s how I was raised. One of the foster kids is my uncle, and his wife my aunt.)
As the teacher and I stood in the hallway at school, she told me that my other cousin and his wife were found in their home, deceased victims of gunshot wounds.
I honestly didn’t know how to feel.
I remember the day he was born.
I was ten.
We were at Grandma’s and my uncle came over to share his joy. His first son had been born early that day. I remember being so excited about a baby cousin! I remember hugging my uncle. I remember joyful tears.
I keep thinking about that baby who became that little boy. Who became that teenager who became that grown man.
How could he be gone?
He’s gone because he found out his wife was seeing another man and he shot her.
Then he shot himself.
I didn’t feel equipped to process this information when I spoke to my uncle. All I could do was tell him I loved him.
I keep coming back to a seeming inability to make sense of it.
I keep thinking I wish my dad was here to talk about it with me.
My heart is hurting.
How much pain exists in one to take a life and then one’s own?
I’m actively working to understand.
I’m expressing love and support to my uncle, aunt and cousin.
I’m not at all judging, I’m simply trying to make sense of it.
I’m searching for grace and hoping my family finds peace in their grief.