As I’m sure many of you saw on twitter and facebook, last week God unexpectedly called my husband’s Uncle Rob home.
I’ve never been good at writing tributes, especially not about people who mean a lot to me.
I seriously considered not writing about it at all but that didn’t seem right either.
This won’t be my most eloquent post and I can promise it won’t hold a candle to the amazing person Rob was.
In order to understand what our family is going through, you have to understand the Harned’s.
Aaron’s dad and his three brothers have spent their entire lives working together at their family’s drive-in bar-b-q restaurant.
Aaron and his cousins grew up working in the family business.
They didn’t grow up with three uncles, they grew up with four dads.
Consequently, Aaron and his cousins are closer than many people are with their siblings.
They are the most tight knit family I’ve ever been around.
When Aaron and I started dating, he made it clear that I had to win them all over.
No pressure, right?
I quickly learned that Rob was going to be my biggest challenge because he wasn’t just Aaron’s uncle, second father and coworker…he was Aaron’s best friend.
Rob was always there to listen to Aaron’s stories and rants, no matter what they were about.
There’s no telling how many FFA stories Rob listened to over the years!
When we were planning our wedding, Rob was always there to listen to Aaron complain about my crazy bridezilla moments.
Rob was the reason Aaron fell in love with hunting and fishing.
Even after his own daughters started hunting with him, Rob insisted that Aaron go along too.
As far as Aaron was concerned, he grew up with three little sisters: his “real” sister, Audrey, and Rob’s daughters, Lakyn and Carsey.
Aaron always said that he hoped someday he’d be half the dad that Rob was.
Rob’s world revolved around his daughters.
Though he worked long hours at the restaurant, he didn’t take it easy on his days off.
Rob’s nights off and Sundays were full of volleyball games, shopping trips, vacations and hosting his daughters friends for sleepovers.
Rob loved telling stories about his girls.
He was so proud of their accomplishments, whether on the volleyball court or in the classroom.
You could see his eyes light up when he told his stories and you knew he wasn’t telling you for your benefit, he was just bragging about how awesome he knew his kids were.
Rob’s stories became a joke among the family because he never told a short one!
I never heard a volleyball story that lasted less than 10 minutes.
Since he lived behind the restaurant, you couldn’t stop by without hearing the recap of last night’s volleyball game or that morning’s hunting trip.
On Sunday mornings, Aaron and I would literally sneak into the restaurant for our diet coke fix because we knew if Rob saw us it would turn into a 30 minute conversation and we’d be late for church!
Over the past week, we spent a lot of time reflecting on what we loved about Rob.
The top of everyone’s list was always that he was the kind of daddy every little girl dreams of having.
Second was either that he was such a loyal friend or how he gave so selflessly of his time and talents.
After naming off those obvious parts of who Rob was, we would laugh about all the little things we’d miss.
His favorite cheesy joke about a string walking into a bar that he told so many times we all knew it by heart.
The way he’d hide behind the back door of the restaurant and attempt to scare me on a weekly basis.
The early morning text messages and phone calls that Aaron always got from him during deer season.
Opening Christmas presents from him, knowing he’d spent hours trying to find each person the perfect gift.
When he’d come in the back door of the restaurant late at night after they’d closed and yell, “Its me! Its me! Its Ernest T!”
Stopping at Thompson’s on a trip to the hunting farm not because we were actually hungry, just because it was a tradition.
How after every vacation or volleyball camp he’d hand you a stack of 200 photos and narrate them for you so you would know every detail of their trip.
To say that life without Rob will be different is a huge understatement.
When they opened the restaurant on Monday, Aaron and his family had to face the fact that Rob wouldn’t be there.
He wouldn’t have the beans cooking when they got there in the morning, his shirts would still be hanging up and he wouldn’t be in the kitchen giving the help a hard time.
Its hard to wrap our heads around.
How could someone be so full of life one week and gone the next?
We don’t understand it.
We know God has a plan and all we can do is trust in it.
The only comfort we’ve found is that Rob squeezed so much life into his 49 years.
Most people go through life without a brother, dad or friend who loved them half as much as Rob loved us.
Though our hearts are broken, we feel blessed for the time we had Rob in our lives and know that the impact he left on us will never be forgotten.
Thank you for all your prayers and support.
UPDATED: August 14, 2013
Lakyn and Carsey – We love you both dearly and miss you every day. We pray for you both every night. If you ever need us, our numbers have not changed (though you both know that 6 days a week the best place to find Aaron is the restaurant!) We’re family and we’ll always love you and be there for you, no matter what. – Celeste, Aaron and Lorelei