A very dear part of my childhood slipped away this past May.
My uncle, William (Billy) Gibbons, or Uncle Buddha as we called him, passed away suddenly in my old bedroom at my dad’s house here in Arkansas.
He was 62.
He’d been living with my dad for a few years, taking care of my dog, Bella, while I was off living my life in Dallas. The crazy thing is, it had been years since the Gibbons brothers-Billy, Kenny, and my dad, Phillip—had been together, and they got to see each other for a final time, out of the blue, before Billy passed. My dad drives all over the country delivering furniture to housing complexes, and my Uncle Kenny is a truck driver based in South Carolina, so it was very coincidental that they were able to get together and catch up before Billy died.
Living with regret
The morning of Wednesday, May 16, 2018, I had been feeling sick at my stomach, so I left work in Downtown Dallas to head home. On the way, my mom called me (she rarely calls), so I was filled with a sense of dread as I answered. She was somber and had asked if I was driving, to which I confirmed I was, but I pressed her anyway to give me the news. My uncle had died. The next few hours were a blur as I wept and packed, and my partner and I checked Vincent out of daycare early, so we could drive home to Arkansas. It was five hours in the car. Five hours brimming with guilt and regret.
I had been in Arkansas a month prior, and in my race to squeeze in visits and rush around doing “important” errands, I distinctly remember calling my dad on my way back to Dallas, telling him I wouldn’t be able to visit him and Uncle Buddha. Next time though. Next time, I’d definitely see them.
I spent a great deal of time over the next several weeks feeling guilty and regretting my choice to not see my uncle while he’d been alive. I was frustrated with living away from my family and having to basically compromise or pick and choose when to see anyone. I was frustrated with living in an overly-priced, cramped apartment, sharing a room with my toddler. And I wasn’t fulfilled in my job of nearly 3.5 years. Something had to give.
A bittersweet farewell
When we visited Arkansas for the Fourth of July, I made a snap decision to house hunt and begin the move home. All else be damned, I was set on moving whether I had a daycare or a job lined up. I didn’t even care that my partner hadn’t discussed working remotely yet with his company. One thing mattered—getting home—and I refused to wait on any stars to align.
We viewed a number of houses on the Fourth, made an offer on the fifth, and accepted on my birthday, the seventh. By August 6, we closed, and we moved in on August 11. I started a promising new job, Vincent got into a great daycare, my partner was cleared to work remotely—everything fell into…place. Everything had been long overdue, and all it took was prioritization and initiative on my part, and the Universe took care of the rest.
I think about life and the impact of death often, and I don’t want to waste a single day of my life enduring something that is completely of my own doing. My uncle colored my childhood with orneriness and fun, and I will forever appreciate those memories. It was a long time coming, but in some strange way, he helped me come home.