Shooting Stars

This is the story of how I lost my uncle.


1. Shooting Stars

He had had stomachaches – bad ones – since December, which the doctors insisted were stress-related. From that time, it only went downstairs.

Let me tell you of the worst six months of my life so far.
  My uncle was a works man to the bone. His name was Hans Peder, but to my sister and me he had always been uncle HP. He had taken care of scrap metal and other kinds of scrap most of his life. He was with a very special woman, named Nina. The lovely couple were married in 2006, which is already nine years ago. Therefore, you could say that he was married at old age, with his at-the-time-being 52 years of life. Nina actually had children, but HP wanted my sister and me to be the bridesmaids. I still remember walking up the aisle with my sister by my side.
  He had always been a loving and helpful uncle. You needed only to ask, and he would be there in a heartbeat – or, actually in about an hour, but what can you do about distances.

Well, as I said, he had had stomachaches since December, and now, when the doctors could not figure out why they would not stop, they put him in multiple scanners. Knowing uncle HP pretty well, I know that the old fella hated every second of it. He had always been that “It’s not something you can’t work away!”-type, so he probably was not very helpful either.
  Nevertheless, the scan results came, and the doctors were taken by surprise. The entire pancreas and duodenum was consumed by cancer. Some of the stomach, liver and colon as well. That was about three months ago.
  As mandatory, they put him in surgery and removed what they had to, but as they had him open, they found a malignant tumor by his spine, and by that time, we knew we were going to lose him.

The doctors kept fighting for him, of course. He was sent home a week after the surgery, but he could not keep solid food down, so he ended up in the hospital again. We got to visit him in his own house before he went back, though. I must say; it’s a weird feeling seeing your uncle, who has always been on his feet and all over the place, lie in his bed, fighting pain whilst stubbornly getting up and to make a pot of coffee for us.
  In the hospital, he gained a little weight. But then again; 46 kg. is not enough for a 61-year-old man. He hated it there. We visited him once again. I wheeled him around in his wheelchair, while we were given a small tour in the area he usually spent his time. Sadly, we had to leave again, and soon he was put in a hospice.
  My mom told me about it. They went to visit him there, without me. He was not really himself anymore. He could recognize my mom, but he did not say hello. He would talk about having sold some scrap metal the day before, even though he had not left the place. My mom told me, that it was a good thing that I was not able to come. The staff was great, though, she said. They were heartwarming, loving people, who merely wished to give these dying people the last, best time possible.

Nonetheless, there was no way for betterment. He suffered blood clots in his legs, and his doctor decided against giving him anticoagulant, since the side effects only would make it worse for an already dying man.
  So along with a pneumonia, it was a waiting game for uncle HP and the rest of us. Less than a week later, the blood clots had found their way to his brain, and he went back to the hospital for the last time. Scans revealed that his entire left hemisphere had so many small blood clots, that the brain itself was barely visible, while the right hemisphere just had one huge one centered in the middle.
  We visited him that night. We left Kolding at about 11 pm, with an hour drive to his hospital. It was the most beautiful night ever. There was over a hundred shooting stars each hour, and my family and I watched so many absolute treasures fall to their deaths from the car windows. It was a kind of magic. A magic that sedated your thoughts, but brought out your emotions. You could not think, you could only cry. But I would do it again if necessary.  I will never be able to look at a shooting star without being reminded of that night. And that is some kind of okay, I guess.  We arrived and were led to his room. I sat by his side for at least an hour, talking to him, thanking him for everything. My sister and I sang Nangijala to him, and we all cried. I have never experienced such a tough night. We went home at about 1 or 2 am, so I was not able to sleep before around 3 or 4 am.
  So I went to school the next day. We were in the midst of a math test, when my mom called. I was excused, went out in the hall, and picked up. I simply stated, “That’s it, then.” She agreed. I collected myself for a minute or two before I went back into the classroom again. I finished the test, and ended up leaving 15 minutes before we were officially off.

Six days passed. I borrowed a black dress from my sister, and before I knew it, we were on our way to my uncle HP’s funeral.
  It was an open casket, so if you wanted to, you could see him before the ceremony. I chose to do so. The weird part is; he simply looked like he was asleep. Like he could move every other second. I was the only one out of my mom, dad and sister, that went to see him. I weirdly enough do not regret it, even though you always hear of people who do.
  We carried the casket, my sister and I. We were put in the middle so if we could not handle it anymore, we had the opportunity to let go. We did not, though. We put my uncle’s last bed into the hearse, and followed it in our cars in a beautiful parade, all the way from the chapel to the church.
  I put the bouquet, which I walked up the aisle with at their wedding, on the casket. A nine-year-old bouquet. I honestly do not know why I kept it all these years, but I did. Now that I think of it, there was no other place it belonged. My sister and I wore the necklaces he gave us at the wedding. A simple silver necklace with a hope, trust and love pendant. We were told that he wore his similar one to the grave, just as Nina also wore hers at the funeral.
  I normally do not sing very loudly along when it comes to the church, but I do not think I have ever sung with so much feeling and emotional power. The priestess said some lovely words, and it was all so beautiful. Especially the last song, ‘Frejdig som du går’ got to me. I did not think that a song ever would get to me like that, but it did.
  Before I knew it, the ceremony was ending, and once again, we had to carry the casket. It is the longest time it has ever felt to walk down a church aisle. We carried the casket to the hearse, and before we knew it, uncle HP was driving out of our lives forever. And I will be okay, for I know that he will be watching over my family and me as an everlasting shooting star. 

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