04/29/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Saying Goodbye

I've written about farewell before, but it's been awhile since I had to say the final "goodbye" to someone in my immediate family. But today I find myself doing that.

In the full scope of things, as we are all struggling in big and small ways with the economy, with fear, with all of the challenges that come as part of the "party invitation" to life, there are also the personal "bits and pieces" of family life that go on despite terrorism, despite new administrations, and regardless of global warming. There are comings and goings. Now, in my own corner of the universe, I am dealing emotionally with goings.

I am focused on the memory of one particular individual -- my uncle Harry Taylor. He died on March 27th of Pancreatic Cancer...he was 80 years old. He was brother to my mother and her other three siblings, wife to Pat, and uncle to many of us cousins, who delighted immensely in his strength and compassion. My uncle Harry was an interesting man. He was stunningly handsome -- macho-looking, but sensitive to a fault. In his younger years he was in the navy, and later he was a biology teacher and track coach at Chula Vista High School -- part of the county of San Diego. To me, he was glorious, brave, and fun-loving. He taught me to carefully hold a bull frog, to aim a bb gun to shoot dust twirls in the desert, catch lizards for his biology class, and eventually, to ski. I married young, and he first married late -- so it turned out that we each had daughters at about the same time. My daughter Tifanie was only a few months difference in age from his daughter Meredith from his first marriage -- his only child, as it would turn out. Meredith died at age four from Leukemia. I think he has always looked at Tifanie, and wondered how his sweet Meredith would have grown up. It was a personal tragedy he bore with incredible bravery.

My uncle Harry was a hunter -- and even though the concept was slightly at odds with my thinking, he hunted with a bow and arrow, which seemed at least more humane -- more fair, if that is possible. In the last quarter of his life, he kept a cozy home in Ridgeway Colorado, where the deer came eagerly to his front yard to lick the salt he kept there for them. He didn't hunt these deer, by the way. There is a fairness doctrine in place after all.

The circle of life continues. We are born, we live for awhile, and then we leave. What we leave behind is the love we have shared while we were here. I am feeling my uncle's love with every memory that springs up in my mind. It feels good. It makes me smile as much as it brings tears to my eyes. I'm sure this lingering love is what is keeping my aunt Pat -- the wife he left behind, and his siblings, my mom included, feeling warm and nurtured.

It's so good to know that with all the uncertainly that surrounds us, especially when the life-as-we-know-it of a "loved one" ends, that the "love we have shared" is something we can count on.

I will always count on you for that, and send it right back at you. Farewell, Uncle Harry.