He was a dear, sweet, funny, remarkable man (he is on the left). He and my cousin had been married for 33 years and have two dear, sweet, funny, remarkable children (and they each have remarkable significant others, of course). My dear, sweet cousin is understandably devastated yet determined to move forward as best she can. This particular group of cousins is so dear and close to my heart. I guarantee you would love every single one of them. Their parents are my godparents. Their mom is one of my mom’s sisters. My aunt and uncle had six kids, and each of them has either a spouse or a significant other. The six kids provided my aunt and uncle with 12 grandchildren. Thus, when their clan gathers there were 26 of them. One of my cousins died a few years ago, so there were 25—and now 24. But oh how wondrous it is when they all get together.
I am so blessed by these amazing cousins, and my cousins in other locales as well. Including my cousins’ spouses and children: on my mom’s side there are 46 cousins; and on my dad’s side there are 83. Cousins are, indeed, forever friends.
So, to gather with any of them, even on a sad occasion is wondrous. It restores me. It renews me. It connects me to parts of myself that get neglected in my busy times. It moves me beyond preoccupation and worry to grace-filled moments. It is a piece of heaven. It is the “sit in a circle of chairs with my feet up and laugh about days gone by, discuss days that are now, and ponder the days that are yet to come”.
We are spread out in many cities and states; so we do not get the chance to gather often enough. I see these amazing men and women and know a few things: I am loved and cherished; I am accepted; I am amazed by how they handle life and their strength of faith. Sometimes I just sit (or stand) and observe the conversations around me and know—-God blesses us with the sublime and amazing times. They refresh us like the waves gently washing the shells on the shoreline, or like the feel of water on feet dangled from a dock.
I am sure you have had that sensation of being beside an ocean, river, lake, creek, stream, pond or even a puddle, and watched the water move. That movement could be from a breeze, the tides, a storm, a boat, or even moving your own hand through the water. There is something primal and reassuring/restorative in that water. Do you know what I mean by that? Gosh—if I am stressed or down, to get near water brings me joy. I pray, I reflect, and I notice: Wow—I am breathing again….it is almost like when I am dealing with difficulties or stress, I forget to breathe!!
My cousins and my collective history over the years reinforces my strength and helps me know that this next phase of my life will be just fine. God has given me cousins, friends (in my everyday life and in my blogging life). I needed a dock or a raft to rest upon after the recent upheavals and worries. That is what God gave me this past weekend: through the prayers and kind messages of each of you; and through the times with my cousins, aunt, and uncle. Those times with cousins, those prayers, kind comments, and supportive words were gentle tides washing the shells on my shore. They were the dock upon which I perched.
As a result, I was able to bring some strength to my cousin. Her adult children were amazing. Her son eulogized his dad in an extraordinary way—which set the standard for the day. Here is a photo of some of the cousins on Saturday. The guys with the grey hair are 2 of my first cousins. The rest are the children of my cousins–10 of the 12…one of the kids was taking the photo–and the other one was unable to attend. They are all so amazing…i am blessed…..