I’ve had a lot of losses in the last year, as all of you Constant Readers know. Some seemed big enough to swallow me whole, some might seem smaller to the outsider, but grief has a way of piling up on you, of expanding exponentially.
This weekend I went to the funeral of my Grandma in Colorado. She was not the mother of my mother or my father, which maybe made her love and acceptance of me a larger feat. I’m not here to commemorate her, though, it’s still a bit too close for that.
I’m here to talk about the gains that we sometimes luck in to, especially when we aren’t looking, and maybe, sometimes, when we feel the least hope. In Colorado, I said goodbye to a wonderful woman who welcomed me with open arms from the moment she met me – and I said hello again to a family that I’d forgotten I had.
In 1989, my dear friend brought me into the fold of her family, a place I’d come to again and again, for Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, Mother’s Day, and other days I’m sure I’ve forgotten. More even than grandparents, there I gained surrogate parents, cousins, aunts and uncles. I gained a sister, too. My friend grew up a single child, but I was used to having a sister to joke with, to tease, to get in trouble with. We quickly developed a way of being, there with her family, a way particular to the two of us and the family culture. And this weekend, we fell right into those patterns, something so familiar it brought tears to my eyes.
Like all sisters, we’ve had our storms over the years, and we haven’t always been close. I’d lost touch with her mom, too, and this weekend I was surprised at how strongly that feeling of belonging came back to me. She is kind to me, supportive of what I’m doing, encouraging me to talk about my life and work. She is unconditionally supportive, and pleased to share memories with me. Her support of my friend is evident, too, the way she carefully attends to the details of her work and progress with her career.
In the course of the weekend I heard over and over again how Grandma was always building family, where ever she went, with whomever she met. I can see clearly how her daughter and granddaughter have followed in her footsteps, and I feel honored to be one more person, taken in.