I was one of 50 cousins and the youngest of all. Most of my cousins are 10 to 20 years older than I am and many have passed. This week another one died. I wasn’t close to this particular cousin but I have a very vivid memory of her husband’s funeral exactly 20 years ago.
In our family, funerals are large affairs with services followed by a meal. Some people attract larger crowds and some people select nicer venues for the “celebration of life” that follows. Her husband’s funeral checked off both those boxes. He was also young, in his 60s, which means that most of his friends were still alive.
It was an opportunity to see cousins I hadn’t seen in years. Somehow we corralled a table and got all my favorite people to sit there. It was raucous. Everyone was talking at the same time. Everyone was laughing. We were all catching up. Over half were retired. I took the day off from work. I wasn’t foolish enough to return
afterward. I wanted to enjoy the afterglow of family. We were finally asked by the restaurant to leave.
Despite the somber occasion behind the event, it was one of my favorite and most memorable extended family events. There was only one other cousin gathering in the ensuing years and that was a 50th wedding celebration about ten years ago.
Here we are many years later and missing more people. It’s unlikely this event, even though this was a beloved person, will be a great gathering of the cousins at least not my cousins. Even those who are alive have health issues that preclude them from attending large gatherings during a pandemic. Those days are over. The transition happens year by year without anyone being conscious of it until there is an event. Then there are less and less people. This is one of those times I wish I could go back for one more picnic with everyone. I would savor every minute. Instead I will focus on savoring every minute of my “now” so I won’t feel like this in ten years although I probably will.