Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hyperventilating again

Tonight was the family meeting since all of my dad's living siblings are now in town. The service will be held on Friday. There was much fighting over the last few days as to which day the service would be held. And then there was fighting about the service itself. My dad says that it is a celebration of life, not a funeral. But tonight was dinner at my dad's cousin's house. As the relatives started to arrive -- because people in my family are rarely on time -- my second cousin, who is like a little sister to me, looked at me and asked, "I'm going to have to hold my tongue tonight, aren't I?" And I knew then that I would make it through the night. We would separate ourselves from the others occasionally to make snide remarks about the others. Isn't that what being with family is all about? Well, it is with my family.

At one point in the evening, my dad and his older sister pulled me aside to share something with me. I'd like to say what it is but it's not definite. All I know is that it has left me feeling a mixture of guilt, joy, confusion, and panic. Thus the hyperventilating. Which is a shame since today was the first day in which I did not feel like crying endlessly.

Just know that I'll be sure that I'll let y'all know the outcome.

Oh, and I did not have to write the eulogy or the obituary. Other relatives stepped up to the plate without being asked. My favorite was what follows, something written by one her first cousin's.

She made living life seem easy,
She made it seem fun.

We all know that life is not fun or easy,
But she did it.
If a person came to her full of woe, and weary with problems galore,
She would give wonderful and uplifting advice.

After the person left, I would ask, “Will this really work?” She would say, “I have no idea.” The person who left was happy and content, ready to try a new solution to an old problem.

It took me a while to understand her wisdom.
You see, she could read people pretty well.

Most people are trying to put a round peg into a square hole and no amount of persuasion will stop them. So it’s best to tell them to keep pounding away until maybe one day it will fit. Hopefully through the experience they will wake up and smell the roses.

She made life seem easy,
She made it seem fun.

She knew life did not consist of the things you had,
but the friends and family that God allowed you to collect in your life. This means that during her life she was a great daughter, sister, niece, cousin, aunt and friend
Since she made living life seem easy even in sickness, more people tried it her way and found out they liked it
Since she made living life seem fun even in ill health, more people enjoyed life.

She fulfilled her God given destiny and purpose for living.

She made living life seem easy,
She made living life seem fun.

It describes her to a tee. So much so that everytime I read it, I tear up.

And tonight my second cousin's kids were tearing around the house. And eventually, I was right there with them. And then my dad said, "You've become your aunt." Because if she was still here, she would have been the run tearing around the house with them. But she's not. Those kids loved my aunt so much but they're too young to understand that she's not coming back.

We all have our roles in our families. Mine, I have come to recognize over the last eight years, is to fill the voids. I did it when my dad's mom died by calling everyone at least once a month, many daily. And my aunt always told me that while being a mom was great, being an aunt could be better in some ways. An aunt can be the fun person, the confidante. And tonight thinking over some of our conversations during the past year, I think she was "training" me to fill the void. But they're big shoes to fill.

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