Wednesday, February 4, 2009

family time

It's 8:00 at night but we ate early for the baby's sake, and it's winter-dark in the countryside far away from streetlights, so it feels like 10 PM. On and off all evening we've been watching a cheesy Anne Hathaway movie - by brother-in-law Craig and my nephew Benjamin put up with it quite gamely. It's taking all evening because we keep stopping - for laundry, for phone calls, for my sister's birthday celebration. Debi is turning older than she looks or feels or acts - she is liveliness itself - and Ben's new wife Vickie made her an amazing four-layer black forest cake, and I got to introduce the tradition of birthday honorings and tell Deb how she is the one who keeps all our extended family from losing track of one another. After we all embarassed her with honorings we went back to the princess movie, and that's where we are now, watching the credits in the living room. Actually, watching Pearl - Ben and Vickie's daughter, my great-niece. She is 14 months old and loves to dance. She bobs up and down, from the knees, and rocks back and forth with a penguin move from watching Happy Feet, and sometimes just shakes around in one place, just a tiny jubilant vibration.

I am waiting for the sorrow to kick in - sometime tomorrow probably - the only reason I am here in Liberty instead of South Bend is that our Aunt Pat passed away this weekend. I cried when I heard, and then switched from feeling to planning mode. I took the three bereavement days my job so generously gave me, plus a day for a holiday I worked, and hightailed it out of town after just one workday for the week. I guess there was no particular reason to take the fourth day - the funeral is tomorrow and I could have driven today and had plenty of time to be ready - but I just wanted to be home with family. We haven't spoken much of what comes tomorrow, all we've really done is spend time together. I went to work with Deb today. Ben took me down the road to see the house that he and Craig are building for him and Vickie and Pearl. And we all have spent a lot of time watching Pearl dance.

I've felt guilty having fun here because I feel like I should be sad, but what else is there to do? You lose a part of the family, all you can do is - be family. All you can do is keep living and loving. One of my favorite Jack Johnson lyrics is: "Love is the answer, at least for most of the questions in my heart - like why are we here, and where do we go, and how come it's so hard?" Here's another Jack Johnson song I've been thinking of this week - it doesn't fit the situation exactly, but says things pretty well ...


uncle jim said...

her life continues we know; your coming together with others to mourn her departure somehow makes it easier for all to bear; and then there's all the celebrating you'll do to honor her life; she'll be pleased; we mortals seem to make such a big deal out of passing on to the next realm, the next stage, the next phase; i wonder how big a deal our spirit thinks it is? being in relationship with God and all of his creativity comes hard for most of us while still here - but i bet it isn't all that hard once we depart.

enjoy your time with family and friends; we'll all be here waiting for your return - why, we'll even work at melting some of the snow before your return

mjsconnolly said...

Thinking of you, Sheila. Just be there. That, at times of death, means so much. To be together. And Christ is there, in you, loving them.
Thanks for the song.