I have a lot of words in me, and I always feel a bit awkward posting them here. You may notice a theme or two, though I try to keep the closer stuff to my self, and to my heart.
Family gathering days are different after you lose a close family member.
My mom told me she had a terminal diagnosis on her birthday two years ago. Her birthday was September 11th. She took her last breath in July of the following year, last year, 2016.
Somehow, because of the timing and the time frame, we got one last of all the holidays and occasions – this one, Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, even all of our birthdays. And we scattered her ashes in two of the great Lakes, so we even got one last trip to the Lake, in a way.
I think about how different my holiday occasions are, having chosen to move across the country and remain here. As a kid, there were cousins, uncles and aunts everywhere. There was never an occasion that we didn’t visit both my mom’s and my dad’s families. There were never less than twenty people in either place, regardless how late we arrived, and sometimes there were upwards of 40, crammed into Grandma and Papa’s tiny house, or Grandma B’s small house on Rogers Ave, and eventually condo.
There was no question about being there. There were few abstentions. As a child, it was a heart rending moment to leave one family party for another, and which one I wanted to be at most depended on the year and a variety of other highly complex factors that only kids consider, and lose in adulthood memory. For years, I went home for Christmas, even if I couldn’t afford it, because I didn’t think it was an option not to.
I left that big busy family behind when I came out West and stayed. I really left it behind when I left the first time. I needed to be something different than that. I needed to be more independent.
I realize I don’t know the politics of any of my relatives now, outside of my brother and my dad, and those posted on Facebook. I know what they do for work maybe, and roughly where they live. But I’m a stranger now, for better or for worse.
I remember those family times, and miss them. And I wonder what all those people think about who I am now, and I wonder about who they became. I’m also fiercely proud of who I am, and where I’ve been, and how my experiences have brought me to this moment in time.
It’s said you can never go home. I like to think that I have the ability to always find home. But I miss family, I do.