Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mixed emotions

This is a big day, one of several we've circled on the calendar, but our joy is subdued.

Yesterday afternoon my wife got word that one of her cousins had suffered a massive heart attack and was in his final hours. We pointed the truck toward Morgantown and drove the 200 miles as fast as we dared, arriving just minutes after he breathed his last.

Mrs. KintlaLake grew up an only child, three male cousins serving as big brothers. The oldest was her "protector," making sure that his "baby girl" didn't get picked on too much. Even as children grew into adults, this warm-hearted man filled that role.

His life leaves a trail of goodness, the loss of him leaves an ache that time may not be able to ease. I grieve with my inconsolable wife and all who loved the man.

After we left the hospital last night, we joined others at an old house perched above the river. The atmosphere was one of storytelling, pizza and beer -- the dearly departed would've liked that. Mrs. KintlaLake and I slipped away from the group at one point and walked the hillside. In the gathering dusk she pointed out where she and the boys used to play, the secret hiding places, her grandfather's workshop, the spots that live in her vivid memory.

Back home again this morning, weary but hopeful with the dawn, we continue to remember. Sadness tinges our hope.

Hope will prevail.