Two nights ago I dreamt about ¨Uncle Cob.¨ Well actually, he wasn´t really my uncle and that was not his real name. But he was an older, wiser, aging co-worker of Polish descent who took me under his loving wings and actually earned the tittle forever.
He was kind, joyful, bright, generous and witty, with just a light splash of harmless wickedness. You know, just enough to make you laugh, and all the while he was capable of handling just about any situation with elegant grace and a strong determination.
¨Uncle¨ Cob had been married and had grown up children he told me. But in his forties, he had admitted to his wife something that back then – just past the middle of the middle ages of the 20th century – had been considered unacceptable. Still he had the courage to accept himself as a gay man, and hold his head up high.
This courage gave him the strength required to face his family and conduct his life with the full integrity of mind, thought, heart and action in perfect alignment with his self from then on. This is, after all, the least that we deserve as human beings, and yet one of the biggest luxuries we can aspire to.
Once, while working in a strange country, we had a car accident. A truck collided straight into my side. My head smashed the window to my left which then crumbled in shattered pieces and as I was violently swayed to the other side, my right my hip bumped very hard into his causing injuries that would still pain him months after the crash.
My eyes kept rolling back and my mind kept dozing off right after that. I was hardly able to think or speak clearly. He pleaded with me to remain conscious while he managed to call an ambulance in a language that he was not even supposed to speak. He was selfless, concentrating all the while just in keeping me present in the here and now. ¨… JUST DON´T LEAVE ME ¨ – he kept shouting at me – ¨DON´T LEAVE ME¨… and I didn´t.
Throughout the years, we´d team in other countries and he was always the joy and highlight of whatever activity we happened to indulge in. In bars and clubs after having completed a task or a mission he was a complete riot. You see, if ¨uncle¨ Cob had a few too many, he´d turn into a ferocious and unrelenting heterosexual. He always made me laugh while chasing women around like a sailor who finally arrives at port!
Just about a year after he retired, he called me on the phone. He wanted to ¨see¨ me on Skype he said, but he warned me! His camera was not working so I would not be able to see HIM. Luckily for me I obliged, happily.
We talked and laughed and joked like we used to. I wish that I had been more insistent when he told me … ¨Me? I´m just fine.¨ Was he really? Unfortunately he was not.
¨Uncle¨ Cob passed away just two weeks after that call. He had been fighting a terminal cancer for a while but he did not tell a soul. In hindsight and knowing him, the call had been his way to say good bye; without dramas nor obvious pain; just as elegantly as he had lived. He thought about not hurting my feelings even to his very end.
He lived in Florida, so when the news about the massacre in Orlando broke to me, I could not help but think that somewhere in there it could have been him or perhaps someone who would some day be like him, even if all together different.
I would have been devastated and as an immediate reaction my heart went out in a shower of sympathy and love to all of those who lost their brothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers and friends right there. How many valuable, wonderful ¨uncles/aunts¨ did the world lose that night? This is part of everybody´s loss and certainly it will become part of this generation´s shame. How many ¨uncle Cobs¨ were gone, just like that?
Yes, I dreamt about my uncle Cob two nights ago, indeed.
He looked so young, healthy and beautiful that the only way in which I was able to recognize him was by his height and hair and voice.
I miss him.
I really, really do.
Dedicated to all the victims, family and friends of the Orlando Massacre.
To the people who knew them and the people who would.
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