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Monday, August 22, 2011

Our Annual Family Reunion!

Another family reunion has come and gone, but the memories we create definitely last a lifetime and beyond.  Yesterday was our 13th annual family reunion, it was so wonderful to see family members, and just catch up on what has been happening over the past year.  It is beautiful to see that our family is continually growing with new additions almost every year.  It was so much fun to watch all the little ones having a great time, playing with cousins they don't get to see too often, it's just wonderful. 

We also miss those who could not be there this year because of distance, commitments or life, but luckily there is generally lots of photos taken, so they at least can feel a part of the festivities in some way.  Of course we also feel the sense of loss, feel the void of those who are no longer with us.  But somehow they manage to let us know they are near, watching over us.  For example, just as we began to gather for prayer prior to eating, a beautiful large butterfly floated by, and I knew Rachel was present.  As the day progressed, my dad, uncles, aunt and grandparents where very much on people's lips.  They were part of conversations, especially as a photo album was being passed around.  Even though each of our deceased family members were not there physically, they were most definitely there in spirit.  

Memories where shared, laughter abounded as old photographs were circulated.  Younger cousins,  nieces and nephews, laughed and poked fun at hairdos and clothing styles, or how serious people looked in older photographs.  But what truly amazed me, was the connections that were occurring as older relatives shared the stories, and younger family members took them all in.  For some, it seemed they couldn't get enough, a simple reminder that there are so many stories to be told.  We are all story-tellers, we are commissioned to pass the baton to the younger generations.  It is through the stories and sharing that they come to know those family members they never got the chance to meet.  These are the stories of great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and all those people who made us who we are; FAMILY!  

My grandson recognizes his Auntie Rachel's photograph, and in a few years when he can comprehend, we will begin to share her story with him.  Like my grandson, for so many family members, that is there only connection with deceased family members.  I noticed it yesterday with some of the younger cousins from my generation, those who did not really have the opportunity to know my grandmother, those born after she had died.  They longed to have pictures of her, i-phones, etc., came out of the woodwork as they eagerly took pictures of pictures, wanting to have a momento, wanting to say 'this is MY grandmother' too.  

Luckily my family is not uncomfortable talking about our deceased loved ones, in fact there is a sense of pride when there names are spoken.  It gives everyone an opportunity to share there fondest memories in an atmosphere of compassion and understanding.  It allows healing en-mass.  My family is like one great big counseling sessions all wrapped up in love, laughter and life.  And even if we are not comfortable in sharing all our feelings, thoughts and emotions, we at least know they care, they put family first and that when all is said and done, we are family.

Yesterday was just a very strong reminder of how I made it through the darker days of my grief.  For me, it was in knowing that no matter what, I had and have people I could and still can rely on to give me the strength and courage I need to face each day.  It is just knowing that with all my faults and failings, they still love me for who I am, quirks and all.  My family is truly a blessing too me, and Rachel, my dad, and all my deceased relatives knew and still know this strong bond, this deep nurturing, and most importantly, this undying love, that not even death can steal away.  My hope for you is that you have people in your own lives who can do the same for you.

Well today I am tired, this 'weekend warrior' stuff is killer, I have muscles hurting that I don't remember having, but the memories that have been created will sustain me not only today, but tomorrow and for years to come.  Again, I am grateful for the insight of a couple of my uncles who decided that a reunion would be a great way to connect, even if only once a year.  It gives so much more in return than anyone could have ever anticipated.  Life will constantly change, people will come and go in our lives, and hopefully there will always be someone who is willing to pass on the baton and allow the memories to be shared.

Who we are is a reflection of everyone who has been a part of our lives, directly and indirectly, past and present, whether they were part of our lives for years, or for a short time, they are all a major part of our very fiber, our essence; just a Rachel is very much a part of who I am, and I a part of her.  The connecting fiber throughout is love, and love is the strongest of all, binding us together for eternity; giving us so much, helping us to carry on.  

Love could be felt this weekend even if it was not spoken, and love has seen us through many difficulties, and it will takes us well into the future.  Love does not fail, love does not end.  Love gives life, love is life and love flows freely through the veil of death.  Love conquers all!

Blessings! and until we meet again.