Only a couple of weeks after I visited
my elder sister in the South Island, I had to get on a flight and head south again,
this time for a funeral. It's been quite the month for family losses - a cousin's husband, my aunt, and now my father’s youngest sibling has just died. I’ve
missed a number of family funerals because I live here in another island, but this
was one I did not want to miss. Even though 1-in-100 year floods did their best
to mess up everyone’s plans.
It was a lovely funeral, even
though I now feel quite weepy about it. Not, I think, because he had died. As much
as it can be, his death was a good one after a long life, and he was surrounded by his family at
the last. Each passing, and each funeral, I guess raises issues for me. "Who
will be with me at the last?" I always wonder when I write those words. But then
I think, does it matter that much? If I’m conscious and aware, yes maybe. But
if not, I’m not sure. It's not the end that worries me. It's the time leading up to that. But that's a topic for another day.
The funeral however, turned out to
be lovely, because we caught up with many of our cousins. For those of you who
live close to family, this may not be unusual. It wasn’t unusual for my sister,
who is still in the same province where we all grew up. But it was unusual for
me – with some of them, I’d barely said hello since I left school. We just
never really connected again; when I was down in the South Island, my focus was
on my parents and sister and her family. It still is. My eldest niece moved
back to the town where she grew up about 7-8 years ago, and it has been an
absolute delight having more to do with her and her family whenever I’m in
But a few years ago I reconnected
with some of the cousins I had been closer to during our childhood at a
reunion, and this was another opportunity to reconnect with some others.
And that was really special. Our lives have all gone in completely different directions,
and I think for a long time we were quite happy with that lack of contact. But
we still have that shared childhood connection, and it is a bond (however tenuous)
that will remain forever. We’re getting older now, and it is as if the bond is
getting stronger again. It provided me with a bit of comfort to know that.
I guess I’m writing about this here
because we often worry about our old age, our deaths, and who will mourn us. It
seems weird to say this, but I know my cousins will mourn me, as I will mourn
them. Even if what they’re really mourning is the end of those happy days of
our shared childhood. That will be enough for me, I think. It's yet another reminder that we have already touched so many lives, and will continue to do so, just by our pure presence here. We don't have to have children to leave our mark on this world, on current and future generations, recognised, or silent but meaningful.
Anyway, that all feels quite morbid, but it's not meant to be. After all, I hope we all have decades yet to leave our legacies. Besides, there are still things to do and places to go and bloggers to meet!