I've been thinking a lot in the past few days about what the word family means. I've spent a lot of time with my family and have come to several realizations.
You may not be in the same geographical area with your family, but you are still a part of it. My cousin Carol made that point quite well when she spoke at my aunt's funeral. One thing my aunt loved were children, and since she didn't have any of her own she more or less "adopted" me and my sister and our seven cousins. We weren't always right there with her, but she never forgot a birthday or an anniversary. She made arrangements to attend plays, musical recitals, and other important events. I would imagine that it means even more now to my sister that she was at Susan's ordination as a minister.
I'm not sure which stage of grief I'm in at the moment, really. I think it's anger. I have some very clear opinions about the series of events leading to my aunt's death, and while I won't stoop to the level of some and point fingers I will say that I think had one particular thing not happened my aunt would still be with us. Am I delusional with grief? Possibly, but I don't think so. Am I looking for a scapegoat? Possibly, but I don't have to look very far.
I have to hold to my belief that what goes around comes around, and that the deeds that may have hastened my aunt's death if not caused it outright will be rewarded in kind. It's funny, my sister and I differ on this...while she is able to hold her composure in check and never stoop to their level, I'm staring people down at the funeral and just waiting for my chance to express how I'm feeling. (ex: I told my mother that if a certain person said boo to me, "it's on.")
What has become apparent is that I have neglected my family. One of my father's sisters actually said to me that she thought I was a stranger to them. While that might be a bit of an exaggeration, it holds some truth. I've been told in the past few days that I over-react to things that happen to me and maybe that's true, but I react to things following how I feel. While that particular person can't possibly know how much my aunt meant to me and how tough this past week has been, he has let me know how I come across to others, and that's what I need to keep in check.
Man. What a week.