Aug 31, 2007
Dear Pat, Love Abigail
I wish I could be at the funeral. I wish that I had called in to work, told them it was an emergency and they had to cover my shifts, shoved mom in the car, and hit the highway. Maybe mom could have handled one big road trip instead of the two she wasn't up for. Maybe we could have done a blitzkrieg, and picked up the relatives that were feeling the same way as I was. My car is big enough, we could have fit. Why, all of a sudden, did I stifle my urge to do something spontaneous?
Maybe. Maybe. Coulda. Shoulda. Woulda.
My cousin Pat, was extremely special to me. I know that she knew how special she was in that respect, and I have no doubt, that she understands why I am not on the highway with the rest of the relatives.
We've had a busy week, our immediate family. She would tell us to stay home, and rest and not worry about missing out. Sometimes, things come up, and you can't accommodate everyone at a moments notice. We never did see each other as much as we would have wanted to.
Pat was much older than me. Shit, she was much older than my mom, in my terms of age and years. But she was always the cooler older kid, to all of us. When we got together for big family gatherings, she was the last of the adults to be sitting with us, drinking and talking until the wee hours of the morning. We would drink and laugh, and tell her EVERYTHING. She was the one, in our angst-ridden teenage years, and in our confusing-as-fuck early twenties that really listened to us....
We would tell her about our hopes and dreams, and she believed in them for us. We would tell her about our broken hearts and our relationships and our troubles with the family, and she would listen. We would tell stories, we would watch family embrace and argue, and she would listen to our opinions on everyone...and give us her own. She never once treated us like we were "kids", we were equal to her. She was the only one to stand up for us that night in the garage, when nobody believed in our dreams.
When we noticed that she wasn't quite herself, a couple years ago, she still made an effort to come out and play, each time her and her husband came to visit us in Small Town. She always rubbed our arms, and held our hands and hugged us...and believe me, that is a foreign act in a family that is as infamous for their drinking, as for their fighting. She told us how special we were, and how much she loved us, as much as she could, and you couldn't help but tell her the same thing back, because you just knew how much she meant it.
Her funeral, is going to be a good time. If they do it up right, like I am sure they will do, it will be one hell of a party. When our family comes together, even (or especially?) in times of sorrow, we shine. We laugh, we cry, we tell stories, we eat and drink like nobodies business. Silly arguments and issues are forgotten, for but a moment, and we come together to celebrate and love each other. Blood is thicker than water.
So yes, I should have shoved the family in the car and headed to Manitoba. But I didn't. So the next time we all get together, we will just have to have our own celebration of Pats' life. And we should do it her way. With drinks and belly laughs and honesty and tears and hugs.
Or maybe, that's just how everyday should be?