My cousin Julie passed away yesterday, and my mind is full. When someone I know and love dies, part of my grieving process is to reminisce about good things in my life. And like the saying goes, the good things in my life aren’t things.
I spent the morning with my mom and dad because even though I am 48 years old, to be honest, when I hurt, the first place I go is home to my mom and dad. We spent time talking and laughing and remembering stories, and when I got ready to leave, I told my mom that I loved her. She smiled and called over her shoulder as she was walking to her door, “I love you more!” God, what a gift you’ve given me!
In my family we say, “I love you.” A lot. And we hug. A lot.
It’s been that way my whole life. In fact, as I look back, I find it kind of funny that I was almost an adult before I realized that there were a lot of people who just weren’t like us. There were some people – even in our extended families – who weren’t natural huggies and probably weren’t all that keen on having a little dark-headed-snot-nosed-kid hugging them but were too polite to say anything.
Our tradition includes hugging when you see someone for the first time that day, and then hugging before that person leaves. Lots of times there are hugs just for good measure. Some people, I’m sure, might think that hugging that much might lead to hugs becoming routine. Maybe. But I’ve got to tell you, there are just some epic hugs that are what love is all about.
Like the time I failed my swimming test because I was too afraid to dive off the ‘tower’ and swim in the 10 foot. My dad found me hiding in my closet and didn’t say too much. He asked if I tried. I said yes. And then he asked me if I wanted to go fishing. When I climbed out of the closet, he wrapped his strong arms around me and told me that as long as I tried, he was alright with me and I had nothing to be ashamed of.
Or the times my mom hugged my pregnant belly and told my babies that Grammy loved them and that she couldn’t wait to see them.
And the time I was holding it together at the hospital until I saw my dad and he grabbed a hold of me and I was able to cling to him and be his child in incredible pain as we said goodbye to Ben.
Oh, and the time I surprised my family by coming home from college a week earlier than planned. I saw my little brothers playing basketball and when they saw me, they dropped their game and came runnning to greet me. They lifted me up and twirled me around!
And my sister, on my wedding day before I walked down the aisle. She whispered for me to take it all in and I did. I remember the fragrance of the roses and the candles and the beautiful music and my handsome groom waiting for me.
I could go on and on and on and probably will in my mind. Memories are just swirling around today like nobody’s business. If I thought that Julie could hear me, I would tell her again that I loved her, and that she was a part of so many lovely memories from my childhood and that I am so thankful to have had her in my life. And I would hug her if I could.
Cause that’s what we do.