Stop. Say Thank You. (For my Uncle Steve.)

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“When are you going to marry my Joel?”

I saw this photo and his voice rang clear in my head.  Every time I saw him, even at my wedding reception, he always asked me this question.

Uncle Steve isn’t technically my uncle, he was my uncle by marriage.  I didn’t know that for years, however, so trust me when I say I was always a bit confused when Uncle Steve asked me to marry my cousin.  By the time I had actually worked out he wasn’t my uncle it was too late, he was my uncle.

“When are you going to marry my Joel?”

If Uncle Steve had a superpower, it was hugging.  He could give these hugs that would magically transform you.  As he came into my life when I was very small my memory of him, even my memory of him as an adult, was a giant teddy bear.  He was massive and yet gentle.  I knew he had fire in him, but the only fierceness I witnessed was love.  Hugging Uncle Steve was like hugging pure love in the shape of a human being.

“When are you going to marry my Joel?”

Even though I long since moved away from that portion of my family, even managing to immigrate to another country, I for some reason always believed that Uncle Steve would just always be there.  He had a presence that couldn’t be denied.  When my aunt said he was gone I had a moment where I just didn’t believe it.

All I could see were these far off images of playing with my cousins, going to a million baseball games, and him there in the middle of it, booming, big, and loud.

“When are you going to marry my Joel?”

It was in that moment that I realised something rather silly but important: I had forgotten in the business of life to pause a moment and say thank you.  Thank you, Uncle Steve, for making my childhood magical.  You taught me a lot, though you may have not realised it.  And because I know how important you are to my aunt, I wanted to do something for you.  For the family.  The thing I’m good at.  I promise I will attack this with the same fierce love you always displayed.

I’m going to go raise money in your name for a charity you held dear.

I’ll be running the Royal Parks Half Marathon this October for the JDRF.  And for the first time since I started running, I’m actually going to train for it and not just hope the core strength holds up.  You never really did anything small, Uncle Steve, so I will make sure I go as big and loud as humanly possible.

So for Uncle Steve and the whole Hyman family, here I go again.

 

 

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