There is an old African proverb that says when an elder passes away, so goes a library.
In my family, we had two libraries close their eternal doors.
Both of my uncles, the younger brothers of my family clan, the only males, left this world within fifteen days of each other.
I was sitting in my room with pen in hand, preparing a spoken word piece to honor Uncle #1 when I received the phone call from my sister-cousin-in-law that Uncle #2 was being rushed to the ER and was not expected to make it. She was on her way to tell her husband and prepare for the ten hour drive to get here.
Holding his hand, stroking his curly hair, seeing my grandmother and great-grandmother in his pale features, wondering what we hadn't asked yet, what we hadn't learned yet, what we hadn't heard yet from him and older brother.
Worlds away we were all mourning one and trying to wrap our minds around the other and it is too much to process that in our small part of the vast family clan, only one remains.
She, my aunt, said she was The Last One. As if the weight of it all fell upon her when we were memorialzing Uncle #1 on Saturday morning, thankful for the wonders of technology that allowed her 86 year old ears to hear the priest over a 1000 miles away in the city of her 80 year old little brother. We all let the moment sink it, Uncle #2 had just turned 77 in May. We all understood something profound was happening and we were all desperate to fill our minds with every utterance and every world they ever spoke.
Uncle #1 always encouraged us to live for today because he said that is all we have, no regrets, no whys, just live fully.
Uncle #2 always greeted us with the blessings of the Lord to be upon us.
The Elders in our culture are deeply revered and honored. They hold the DNA of our very existence and the gaze into a life we have only heard about. The ancients have cleared a path for the collective us to walk freely upon and admonished to deliberately take each step with care and thought.
My family, my brother-cousin, my beloved cousins over 1000 miles away, we have closed the ancient library doors. We have volumes now to pass on to the next generation, but the words still unspoken from these elder lips can only sail on the wind of time, in the great cloud.