The General Hostility and Unfairness of the Universe

I learned on a flight that my aunt lost her second husband.

That sentence is true, but doesn’t fully convey my meaning.

My aunt’s husband has died.

This is the second husband she’s outlived.

So right now, even more than usual, I take small solace in the unfairness of the universe.

In knowing that we don’t get everything we deserve. And that we don’t deserve everything we get.

My aunt’s first husband – my uncle – didn’t deserve to die. My aunt’s second husband didn’t, either.

And my aunt didn’t deserve to go thought the loss of a partner.


My uncle was my mom’s baby brother. Much younger than her – the youngest of 8 siblings.

He and my aunt were the only extended family that lived close to us, were the only extended family I saw with any regularity, were the only extended family I was close to.

They had a huge positive impact on my life, and on my younger brother and sister.

And on my wife and I, who moved a few blocks away from them when we first started out together. They were a safety net. Role models. Dinner companions. Friends.

Their kids were the only cousins I really knew, though I had (have) many.

Despite years of closeness, we’ve drifted apart.

We moved – out of the area, out of the country. If I’m honest we – I – didn’t know how to “go back to normal” after my uncle died.

Now my Aunt, and my cousins and I are miles and years apart. And the gap seems… vast.

He wasn’t the first loss I’d experienced, but there’s no doubt it was the deepest cut I’d felt.

I remember – like it just happened – driving through the night, tears streaming down my face, feeling for the first time utterly and completely broken.

Lost, despite my partner and constant navigator sitting next to me.

And I was just his nephew.

Not his sons. Not his daughter-in-law.

Not his wife.

When I heard the news, I did the only thing I could, though the gesture felt empty even as I made it.

I reached out to say I’m sorry.

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