Tonight I attended the pre-funeral viewing for my Uncle Buzz who passed away last week (his funeral is tomorrow). Walking in the doors of the room where the viewing was taking place and seeing so many of my aunts and uncles and cousins and siblings and my parents all gathered together inside the room was a really surreal experience for me tonight. On the one hand we were all there to mourn the passing of my dear uncle, which was immeasurably sad, yet on the other hand there was such a feeling of joy that came from walking into that room and seeing all of my extended family gathered together…so many of the people that I love all together in one place. My heart was incredibly full.
As I looked around at everyone and I couldn’t help but think to myself, “why does it take losing someone you love to truly appreciate all those you love who are still living?” You see this was the first time our extended family had all come together in years. And as more and more relatives entered the room with their children and I could see how grown-up their children had become, all I could think about was what a shame it is that it takes someone dying to get all of us to come together like this.
Life is busy, no doubt. And all of us have a million responsibilities we carry on our shoulders day in and day out. And we all tend to take for granted the fact that family is family and they will always be family so “someday” we will make time to spend together…but the sad truth is that we never know when any one of our family or extended family members will pass away and we will lose the ability to spend that “someday” with them.
As l left the viewing tonight, after spending several hours talking with my extended family and catching up and reminiscing on favorite stories from our childhoods, I realized that I don’t want to let so much time go by without seeing my extended family ever again. I don’t want it to take a funeral to bring us all together to laugh and reminisce and catch up with each other. I want to make it a much higher priority in my life going forward to plan those activities that will bring us all together so we can see each other’s children grow up and make sure they are a part of one another’s lives.
Family is everything. It really is. And when all else is said and done and it becomes each of our turns to pass away it will be our families that will gather together in a room for our viewing to mourn. It’s our family that will be there when we leave this life…and it will be our family members that have passed away before us that are waiting in heaven to greet us with open arms when we arrive.
Getting our families and our extended families together is worth the effort, so don’t wait for funerals to make that happen…
~Amy Rees Anderson