My parents moved to Southern California before I was even born and most of my extended family is in Michigan with some in Northern California. I have cousins, aunts and uncles that I don't know very well. Growing up, there were Summers that we piled into the car and made the cross country journey to Michigan or the 9 hour drive to San Jose but it wasn't enough to really know them. It bothers me that I don't and I want to connect but I feel like I don't know where to start. I met 3 out of my 4 grandparents. My grandmother on my dad's side is still alive but the others have passed away. I never really understood the specialness of the grandchild and grandparent relationship until my nephew DJ was born since I had never experienced it myself. My parents are so in love with that child. As am I. Children are so loved. I imagine that my grandparents love(d) me that way too but not being close to them I never really understood that until now. DJ will know his grandparents and his aunts in a way that I never did. They live in North Carolina but we had him here for the first three years of his life and it's important to all of us that he doesn't forget who we are.
Its an odd feeling when someone in your family passes away and you don't feel sadness about it in the way that you think you should. It kind of makes me feel like a bad person but I know that it's just because I didn't know them. Yes, I'm sad but not in the way that I would be had I truly known them as a person and had the opportunity to grow close to them. In a way, I have been spared the pain of loss simply by not knowing my extended family. While I may be somewhat shielded I don't know how lucky that is because I really would have liked to have known them better.
My aunt passed away on Saturday after 6 years of battling cancer. I haven't been to Michigan in over 10 years and I can't even remember the last time I saw her. I am saddened by this and my heart aches for my mother who is losing a sister. I love my sister's so much. I can't even imagine how awful that feels. She is also a mother, a wife and a grandmother. There are so many who are deeply affected by her passing. It's this gigantic ripple effect and every ripple is a layer of love and a deeply painful loss. I don't ever want to know that sickening heart wrenching feeling of loss but I know it's not a choice I get to make. There will come a day that I will become painfully acquainted with it.
With the passing of my aunt and that terrible shooting; death has been on my mind. I know, it's so morbid. But sometimes your mind goes to dark places whether you want it to or not. I watched Safe Haven on Sunday. It's about a man who loses his wife to cancer and is now raising their two children on his own. Boy meets girl, they fall in love and the story unfolds. The end of the movie left me a sobbing mournful mess alone on my couch. I can be emotional so this is not unusual for me. I've cried watching a cotton commercial. I cried as if my heart was breaking just imagining the loss of this fictional characters wife. Then the anger hit. I know it's just a movie, but then I thought of my aunt Martha again and anyone else that has lost loved ones. I too will experience it at some point before I eventually expire myself and somehow it all just seems so cruel and unfair. I literally asked out loud as if someone would answer; Why do people have to die? It's such a childish question and I am old enough to know the answer. It's the circle of life. We can't live forever.
Sometimes I let my mind wander a little bit too much and I think of how I can possibly endure loosing the people in my life that I love the most. My eyes tear up, I get this terrible lump in my throat and then I have to push it aside because we can't live our lives fearing what has not yet happened even if it is something as inevitable as death. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it. Nobody should. It's too depressing and we have to live for the here and now. But whenever it does sneak into my thoughts it's a reminder of just how important it is to make the most of precious time with friends and family. Nobody is promised tomorrow.