By Cait Collins
The older I get, the more I am made aware of the frailty of life. I recently lost a friend whose family has been a part of my life for fifty years. She suffered from Alzheimer’s for a number of years and has not known us, but the loss hurt.
My friend and her husband sponsored youth events, held parties in their home. She was a hostess for many of our wedding and baby showers. Together they mentored young people who didn’t have good role models in their homes.
I appreciated the way the family did the service. There was no rush to leave the church building. Instead the funeral home quietly removed the casket while the mourners gathered in the auditorium, the foyer, and outside and talked, shared memories, and caught up on our lives. There were also the awkward moments when someone came up and said, “I haven’t seen you in years. How are you doing? I stood there with a smile pasted on my face thinking, “Okay the face is familiar, but who are you?” We laughed and cried, and maybe healed a bit.
You see, I was part of a church youth group of about 70-80 teens. We learned the importance of checking on friends who were not attending, put out a monthly youth bulletin (I can still smell the machine fluids), and we fellowshipped together. Our folks would take 60-70 of us to Palo Duro Canyon and turn us loose. We supported each other in good times and bad times. We were, are a family.
Family is important whether it’s blood family or family of the heart. Maybe that’s why family is prominent in movies, books, and plays. Family shapes our lives either for good or bad. Our characters can wallow in thoughts of bitterness and never find happiness. Some rise above their upbringing and find happiness and security. Others thrive on the acceptance and support of a good, strong upbringing. Family memories can bring tears of anger and frustration, or tears of love and appreciation. I can truthfully say that I have been blessed with both a loving blood family and a family of the heart.
Life is fragile and I know that there will be more funerals; more gatherings to remember those who are gone from us. It is the way of life. But I know I will not face these events alone. I have family.