This I Believe...

February 28, 2011
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I believe that love never dies. It stays with you always. People will come and go, but those who you truly love will remain in your heart forever.

Before this year, I’d never really experienced death. My grandmother passed away when I was nine, but I was too young then to completely understand. I never realized how hard it was. Now I know.

When I came home that day in September and found out that my uncle had died, my whole world came crashing down. I didn’t know how to react. He was too young, had too much life left. How could he just die like that? I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I’d never see him again. It didn’t seem fair.

My uncle was sick for most of his life. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease as a teenager, a disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract and extreme pain. It can sometimes lead to blockage of the intestine. He had to always be really careful about what he ate and had to have more surgeries than I can count. He had parts of both his intestine and stomach removed. At one point, doctors found a rare type of cancer, and he underwent months of chemotherapy. But even though he had a lot of medical issues he didn’t let anything bring him down. I never thought of him as ill or sickly. The term just didn’t fit. He always stayed positive, always had hope. Most people in his situation would have felt sorry for themselves. But he didn’t. He lived his life like he was perfectly healthy.
To me, he was the greatest uncle in the entire world. As a young child I always looked forward to his visits. Some of my fondest memories involve him. Family vacations in Delaware, going to the Great Escape, even something as ordinary as a game of air hockey or a summer barbeque. He was the type of person who brightened up a room with his amazing personality. I will always remember his smile, seeing it and hearing his laugh was enough to make anyone happy. He was an amazing cook, a diehard Yankees fan, and absolutely loved all things Mickey Mouse. The last gift he ever gave me was a key chain from Disneyland. I will treasure it forever.
He had a motto that he used to get through the tough times. “No darkness, only light” he’d say. It came to him one night in a dream. From then on, that was what kept him going. He always tried to see the bright side of things, and he never felt sorry for himself. After he passed away, my cousins had bracelets made with that saying on them. I wear mine everyday.
My uncle has become my inspiration. It’s been that very same motto that has gotten me through the past few months. It helped me to deal with not only his death, but the death of my grandfather two months later. Those four words were what gave me confidence during my musical audition. They gave me hope when my dog was sick. And it’s been his words that have helped me to deal with my depression, and have given me the strength to get my life back.

I know he’s out there somewhere, watching over me. I can feel his presence. In my mind, I hear his voice, his laughter. I can still picture his smile. He will always be with me in my heart, and I know that my love for him will never die.

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