Saturday, we made a whirlwind trip to Alabama--there and back. My dad's last living brother passed away earlier in the week from a short battle with cancer.
You see, my dad had 2 brothers and both of them had kids that were the same ages as my brothers and I. At one point, I think my mom and 2 of my aunts were pregnant at the same time. There was a baby boom. Because of that baby boom, I had lots of cousins to play with. My grandparents had 18 grandchildren. There were only 5 of us girls. My uncle James' girls and I were like the three amigos in the midst of all those boys. I remember running around our grandparent's yard playing on Sunday afternoons. That's when all the kids would congregate after church. My Nanny and Papa would be in the kitchen cooking up dozens of dishes to feed us all. I'm sure not everything was perfect, but those are fond memories for me.
My extended family doesn't see each other very much and we say half-jokingly that we only see each other at funerals. But we will always be family. Bound together by blood and shared memories.
It's weird being with people that remember when you were born. People that shared your same growing up experiences. That remember your good and try to forget your bad. Ones that look for you and wonder where you are if you don't make it back.
I don't go to funerals for the dead. I go to show my love and support for the living. The sweet aunt that was always so quiet and loving. Those two little girls that were my partners in crime back in the day. Their brother that was too little to really remember me now. I go to express that even though I live so far away and have a life separate from here, I'm never really separated from the loss we collectively share. The loss of our grandparents, my dad, his brothers, two cousins and my brother. Bound together by loss.