You've probably heard the old saying "Death Comes In Threes"
|You've probably heard the old saying "as soon as one family member dies, two more will follow." I never have been able to find the origin of that myth or legend, as it may be called. I'd never been one to give into superstitions anyway.
Of course that was before it happened to me.
I have to admit, that I now firmly believe in the reality of this one.
What convinced me you may well wonder?
As cold and calculating as they were.
The year was nineteen ninety-seven. The month was January, and it was an exceptionally cold month, by normal standards.
On January second the call came in that my spouse's brother Jim (aged 69) had died of a heart attack. The funeral services were to be January sixth at Haven of Rest Chapel in Gig Harbor, Washington.
Jim was an established carpenter and cabinet maker for over twenty years. Well respected in the community where he lived in Port Orchard, Washington. Of course we attended his funeral that day. The chapel was overflowing with many family members and friends. I remember my husband, and several of my grown children were seated behind Jim's wife and grown daughters. Behind us were the many more brothers and sisters with their children filling up the rows of pews. Our hearts were all heavy with grief. Two of his daughters gave eulogies that day for their father. I remember thinking of how brave they were, to stand up in front of everyone and speak so lovingly of a parent now gone from their lives forever. The minutes seemed to go by so slowly. The sadness hanging over the ceremony swept us all away with the sound of "Wind Beneath My Wings."
Following the services I noticed that one of my older sons, Chris, had made it to the chapel in spite of his job. He looked so handsome sitting in the back pew, in his long beige trench coat. I was especially delighted to see him there. I knew that he was going through a period in his life that involved alcohol. That he had been attending meetings for it. He was also attending counseling at a church with his girlfriend, who was the mother of his three-year-old son. We stopped to talk with him for awhile. It was good to hear him talk of his accomplishments with his personal life. He had so much to look forward to.
Then as we were making our way to the door we ran into a relative who lived in Gig Harbor. She asked if we had heard that my Uncle Chris had died! He was ninety-one, and a lifelong resident of the Harbor. No, we had not heard. It seems no one had our phone number, as it was unlisted then. This was a beloved uncle of mine. He was in fact the source of my "namesake Chris." I had asked my uncle if I could name my son "Christopher" after him when he was born. I was thrilled when he agreed to the name.
We were devastated to learn of his passing.
He had died on January fourth, just two days earlier. He was to me like a "father figure" here in Washington. I had left my family in Michigan years before and came west. Married here and raised my five children in Port Orchard. He was always such a caring-giving person. A well-loved and respected commercial fisherman for years. He worked out the rest of his years before retirement for the Pierce County road crew. His parents had come from Yugoslavia and settled into Gig Harbor where he was born in the early nineteen hundreds. He was a prominent figure in the area. He was known in the community for his vegetable gardens and his workshop. He had built more than one boat there.
We rode home from the brother's funeral in complete silence.
How could a turn of events be so cruel? To find out of this death at the funeral for another?
Services for Uncle Chris were to be held on January ninth. We were overwhelmed with grief. My husband felt that he just could not pull himself together to make it to another funeral so soon. So, we called ahead and told family members that we would not make it. We did not want to bring our overburdened grief down to the same funeral home again so soon.
Somehow I just feel we should have.
More than that, I honestly felt for years afterwards that God was punishing me, because I did not go to my beloved uncle's funeral!
Then on January twelve the phone rang in the evening. A police officer was telling my husband that paramedics could not get our son Chris's heart started! That he had fallen on the rocks outside of the apartment somehow and had hit his head. That he and his roommates had been drinking, and no one seemed to know how or what had happened to him. That we should come immediately to the apartment building where he lived.
We couldn't get there fast enough. It made no difference in the end how fast, anyways. When we got there his heart had stopped beating for over twenty minutes before they started it again. He was put on a portable ventilator and we watched as the ambulance took him away.
Later that evening he was flown to Seattle's Harborview Hospital. Placed on a ventilator and declared brain dead by Washington State law. We were told he would never regain brain functions. That he would die on the ventilator.
On January 16, 1997 he was taken off the ventilator and pronounced dead. Our beautiful son, Christopher, dead at age thirty. I was in shock for months afterwards, and grieve for him still.
Death came in threes in January of Nineteen Ninety-seven.
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