Things Yet To Come...
by ff_b

Uncle Thad was nearing the end of his long fight with cancer, and his latest news from the oncologist had been grim indeed. "They tell me I'd better get my affairs in order," he advised his sister and young nephew, Robby. The boy averted his face and tried to hold back the tears.

"Hey Champ, I'm sorry!," Thad assured the boy. "But I'm really a spirit lugging around a corpse, and I'm just gonna go through a transformational thing! I'll be in touch with you even when I'm gone, you'll see!"

Thad's sister Jazz shot daggers at him. "Don't mess up his head any more than it already is!," she snapped, her voice rising. Jazz didn't cater to her brother's idiosyncrasies, like his New Age beliefs and the fact that he was a "furry." People were supposed to outgrow such crap, for God's sake!

"Don't have a cow, Sis!," placated Uncle Thad, holding his hands aloft in a gesture of mock appeasement. Jazz tossed her head and stormed off, not wishing to stage a confrontation in front of her sensitive son.

"There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio," muttered Uncle Thad.

"Who's Horatio?," Robby asked his uncle, confused.

"Just a dude from Shakespeare, Robby," answered Thad, playfully tousling the boy's hair. "But that's not important right now," he reassured his nephew.

As doctors often are, Thad's physician proved to be correct, and in a few weeks he was dying in his bed. His sister ordered Robby from the bedroom, wishing to spare him a vision of his uncle dying. "See 'ya later, Champ!," Thad waved weakly at his nephew as the boy departed. "Come closer!," he asked his remaining sister.

Jazz drew nearer to her brother's side. "What is it?," she said softly, drawing to within inches of her brother's face.

"Last tag!," declared Thad, landing his hand on his sister's forehead and expiring.

Muttering, Jazz removed her brother's now lifeless hand from her face. 'So much for dignity!,' she thought, a strange mixture of emotions filling her.

Poor Robby barely made it through his uncle's viewing and funeral, in the days ahead spending much time alone in his bedroom in a depressed state. It was on one such night as Robby buried his head in his pillow that a stuffed animal of a fox on his desk turned his head towards the boy, and spoke in a familiar voice:

"Jeez, Dude, lighten up a little!-You take this death thing much too seriously!"

Robby lifted his head to make eye contact with the stuffed fox, and the figure winked a glass eye at him. "Uncle Thad?," he asked, incredulous.

"In the fur," responded the small stuffed fox, stretching his limbs as if awakening from a long nap.

And in the many years to follow, Robby would draw snickers and occasional disbelief from others, but would never be far separated from his much-loved fox plushie, drawing much comfort and wisdom from it in his long journey through life...