I haven’t posted in a while. Some of you have noticed. The vast majority haven’t noticed.
This is all well and good. Heck. There’s close to a few hundred thousand people who have, at some point, clicked the “sign up here” button. I’m just one of those.
For those who have noticed my absence I say, “Wow. You little heart-melters. Here’s a post of just for you.” And I’m not going to say a thing about real estate. So, this is another off-topic communication.
To all who stumble upon this post, I hope to say something worth your time.
And I apologize.
This post will not be edited.
It will be too difficult to read for a second time. And I’d probably hit backspace so many times that I’ll probably press delete and go about my day.
That’s the beauty of writing.
We can edit.
We can strengthen the sentences.
We can put on our best face, smile and click send-knowing that we’ve done an above average job.
Life is a different story. Every action. Every phrase is a rough draft.
We can fall in love by hearing something said just right.
We can pass judgement on the clumsy who manage to say just the wrong thing.
In large part the majority of the things I talk about are just utility words and phrases.
Many of the things I’ve posted fit that category and, big confession time, I’ve sent plenty of first drafts and suffered few consequences for this. I’m surprised that I have blog-followers actually.
OK. I’m stalling now. Let me just go ahead and clicky-clack on this keyboard and pour out my disparate thoughts.
Today’s topic: Losing a loved one.
[deep breath and humble prayers… and here goes an attempt at assembling the impossible.]
When you marry into a family you get a new one.
This new family is so much bigger than the family you currently have.
This is one of the joys and challenges we take on.
Unlike a spouse- these new brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law and cousins-in-law will be all over the map. And I mean this both physically and symbolically.
Which leads me to tell you about Joe.
Joe is cut from large cloth. He’s a few inches shy of giant. And that smile? My goodness. You have to smile with him. I’ll get too sappy to describe him further. Let me just say this. When I met Joe I instantly thought, “I want my sister to date this guy.”
Joe and my sister went on a date. Joe took her to the dollar movies (bad move).
He paid with pennies (second bad move).
OK. Joe is a great guy.
Just not a smooth date guy. To be practical is nice- but not in the art of successful first dating.
Still. No hard feelings.
We all like Joe and even though there was no second date with my real sister there’s no losing him as a cousin-in-law.
And life is about do-overs.
Joe was handsome enough and charming enough and smart enough. He simply needed to visit a dating camp. (Truth be known. I have empathy for Joe because I too was a very unskilled dater.)
Fast forward a few years.
Joe meets Natasha.
Her family is from another country. She’s smart. She’s beautiful. She’s named “Miss Fill-in-the-blank-university” (for privacy’s sake.) Enough descriptions here. Let’s just say that she’s that girl who could date anyone.
And she chose Joe.
And she loved him.
And they got married.
And their kids (two boys one girl) are total angels.
…. Now the hard part …
Attending the viewing.
In the next few hours I will put on my best suit.
And a brave face.
And I’ll say my last goodbye to Natasha.
She’s too young.
Much too young.
Natasha will be laid to rest in the Highland cemetery.
Joe was telling me last night, at the viewing, that his daughter was making all of the decisions for him.
She’s a freshly minted teenager but she stepped up to the plate here.
What kind of casket? Not wood says she. Metal is better.
And where? Highland. “But we live in Pleasant Grove”, says Joe.
No answer was given. But, having attended a funeral a few weeks ago I know the beauty of Highland. It’s a place where you can gather your thoughts and the tombstones seem to give you more distance.
As Joe is telling me the story of his brave decision maker I see her by the metal casket. She’s beginning to crumble. Her brother scoops her into his arms. Joe excuses himself and joins the five-minute group hug. The second brother joins in. The room is in freeze mode. This is a moment so private.
And I excuse myself because tears in a crowd feel very unmanly.
This is life my friends.
And this is family.
I will miss Natasha. And I will feel her loss when I see the ones she left behind.
But I’ve done this before. And with age I hope it gets easier. I know that Joe has a tough row to hoe and his kids will hold her in their memory and form and re-frame their feeling and I ache for them.
And I will be forever thankful that we humans can feel the way we feel, even though we may not always like this feeling.
And now I have to wrap this up and click send before I’m tempted to re-read it; judge it too sappy, and click delete.
Thankfully I know that we will bond- share the grief with hugs and back slaps. We've done this before. We're family.