Her family, like so many families, has it's share of drama. There are people who don't get along, who don't speak to each other even. There are people who go years without seeing one another--I'm afraid I am guilty of that last one. In fact, my children and I had never even met one of their first cousins, and she's turning 7 next week.
We always have good intentions, we always say, "Hope to see you soon!" in cards and emails, which are also too few and far between. But, in the end, we don't make the effort.
This was something that my mother-in-law always talked about--how important family was, how much she wished to have a good relationship with everyone, and that we all have a good relationship with each other. She had a huge heart, and always managed to find the good in people, even people who had wronged her. She was capable of putting differences aside in order to stay connected and keep the peace.
All of us, the ones who have such a hard time figuring out how to find time to get together, and the ones who didn't want to talk to each other, let alone be around each other, managed to make arrangements and get to her funeral, and with very little notice. Proof that it isn't nearly as difficult as we make it out to be.
It was a lovely funeral. My mother-in-law was an excellent and thoughtful planner and she, knowing she was very seriously ill, had written down exactly how she wanted her service to be. She had requested certain readings and songs, and people who should do those readings and songs. I was honored that she had asked that I sing Amazing Grace--and even though I was very doubtful that I would be able to sing it through without falling apart, I did. I wanted to honor her request, and her. I hope she knew how very much I loved her. I wish I could tell her one more time, but she's gone on now to a better place.
After the funeral everyone went over to her brother's house. His wife graciously and spontaneously opened her home to everyone, and we all came together. People were talking, hugging, laughing. The very same people who hadn't interacted in so long, had crossed an imaginary bridge built by my mother-in-law's love. Differences were set aside because they were, as my mother-in-law knew all along, simply not important enough to keep people apart.
She would have been so happy to see everyone together. I wish we'd done something like that sooner, so that she could have been there in person, and not just in spirit.
The lesson I learned is this. Don't wait. Don't make excuses. Tell the people you love that you love them right this minute. It's not impossible to find time to get together. It's not unheard of to take a weekend and plan a reunion just because, and not just because someone has passed away.
And for people who have rifts within their family, branches so far apart that it's hard to believe they even grew from the same tree--grow up. These are your people. Don't let your anger block your love. Nobody is asking you to let go of it. If you want to be mad, be mad. But at least put it aside enough to leave room for hope, and love, and joy.
To my beautiful mother-in-law: Just look at what your love did!