Thursday, September 10, 2015

Family: All We Have

"It's been so nice to see everyone, I just wish these were better circumstances."

Every person at every funeral will say this to you. You'll nod in agreement with the corners of your mouth slightly tilted and you'll move on. The statement is true, don't get me wrong, but it's not a terrible thing to be surrounded by people who love you. This particular reason may call for that more than most.

Two weeks ago, all the cousins on my mom's side were together for the first time in more than ten years. When we last gathered at my Mema's house in eastern Arkansas I was a single college student, there for a Thanksgiving meal and to escape the pressures of taking care of myself. In the years that followed, there have been countless marriages, more babies and enough life changes to make your head spin. Despite it all, flights connected, roads burned and we met at the house on the lake.

We stood in Mema's living room, making piles of items that held her memory and thumbing through photo albums yellowed at the edges. We are in our 30s and 40s {the lucky few are holding tight to their late 20s and then there's the 19-year-old baby}. One is expecting her third child next February and another will send her firstborn to college next fall. The wine and memories poured and that decade of being apart disappeared. We were the kids who snuck into the kitchen to find the candy jar full of Snickers and opened Christmas presents in order of age.

Stories and memories flowed into all hours of the night and for us, the laughter outweighed the tears. That's such an odd place. Funerals bring back memories of life and it can easily turn from mourning to celebration. Etiquette may rule against the giggling that went on, but it was what I needed. It was what we all needed.

Yes, it was hard to leave. It was painful to walk away and wave goodbye to my childhood. I know better than to say the memories are gone, though. They're more than a place; they're the people. I can always lean on my cousins to keep the legacy of our Mema alive. There is life in death. I won't be back to that house, but I will be back to strengthen the ties that have bound us together since birth.

Family is our one constant. We should make the most out of every second together.

Do you have a wide-spread collection of cousins? How often do you get together?

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