A couple of days ago, at the age of 77, my great uncle Ira passed away as a result of cancer. It was expected for a while, but it’s never easy.
The memories I have of him are fond. We were never very close, but he gave me the most thoughtful gifts when he could; we shared a love for baseball, so he gave me the complete 1991 set of Score baseball cards. I spent days organizing them and adding them to my collection. The last time I saw him, about a month ago, he was his usual dry, sarcastic, and impeccably witty self, and it reminded me how I loved to spend time with him.
His death, like others I’ve experienced in the past year, brings to mind the Death Cab For Cutie song “What Sarah Said”. This song epitomizes the feelings that surround a death of any kind: the recollection of imperfect memories, no comfort in the waiting room bracing for bad news, and the notion that “love is watching someone die”. It’s a beautiful notion, that out of death can come a beautiful thing such as love. I’ll never forget that phrase.
The song is also a masterwork of arrangement, letting Gibbard wail the song’s key line almost a cappella, and finishing with a beep that sounds conspicuously like a heart monitor fading out another life….
There was a storm when I last saw him, and as I was about to leave, I stole one last knowing glance. I took a breath, returned his look, and ran headfirst into the storm, uncertain of what was to come.