Jack Small

Sunday night I was in Brigham City for my friend Jane’s father’s viewing. I wondered if I would see my Uncle Dee (his friends, apparently, call him Ron) there. I’d been on the road all day and hadn’t tried to reach out. And we arrived at the end of the viewing and so it was very likely he’d been earlier. He arrived with his second wife, who I don’t know very well, and we caught up on family for a few minutes before we moved up in the line and he headed to the back of the line.

A few minutes later someone tapped me on the shoulder.

“Are you Dale Rex’s daughter?”

“Yes I am!”

“I’m Jack Small. I used to work with your dad.”

It took me a minute. I was trying to put into context when that might have been.

“At the BYU Dairy. When we were both at BYU. I knew Bob,* too.”

He didn’t really have much more to say than that, in fact I should liked to have asked him some questions, but I thanked him profusely.

“They’ve been gone so long, it’s so good to meet someone who remembers them.”

It was clear he remembered them fondly.

This is the thing about losing someone you love. The world keeps spinning. Life moves on. Everyone else moves forward just the same today and tomorrow as yesterday.

Eventually time moves forward for you again too. The planet still spins. But the tilt of the planet will forever remain just a little bit off to you. And sometimes you wonder how everyone else goes on as if nothing happened.

So when, nearly 35 years later, someone stops for a moment and seeks you out to acknowledge the altered universe–that this person you cared about existed and was known and loved and is still missed–well words are insufficient to explain how that settles in your heart.

[Day 102 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]

*Bob is my uncle who was shot down in Viet Nam when I was a toddler. He left behind a pregnant wife and a a toddler even younger than I was. She doesn’t remember him. Her younger sister never knew him.