Monday, April 10, 2006

Of funerals and families

I have returned to the comfort of my own small nuclear family, having spent several days under difficult circumstances with a large extended family including an even larger community of church friends, high school classmates, former work colleagues and much more. I knew very few of these people at all. In traveling to Mr. Geeky's home town, I had in my mind that I was there primarily to support him and his immediate family: his father, sister and brother. I wanted to not be a burden and to lift as many burdens from others as I could. I was largely successful. I helped put together a photo collage. I heated food that neighbors and friends had dropped off. I stood by Mr. Geeky's side for nearly five hours greeting the hundreds and hundreds of people who came to pay their respects. I tried to be in the background as much as possible.

I enjoy many people in Mr. Geeky's family. His sister, especially, with whom I share a first name and a high-school graduation year, I am supremely fond of. We've been on vacation together just the two of us. We've talked on the phone (though not as much as I would like). We've said of each other that if we met each other on the street, we'd be instant friends. There's a cousin from San Francisco who's delightful. There's an aunt and uncle from Seattle who sat down with us after the funeral and talked to us for a long time, asking us about our work and the kids. And we asked them about theirs. I have always enjoyed my father-in-law, a quiet man with a keen sense of humor. His sadness breaks my heart. My father called and talked to him for quite a while, convincing him to have an autopsy done (long story, and one I likely won't blog). I told him to visit us whenever he wanted. Many of Mr. Geeky's other aunts and uncles and cousins are also pleasant people, happy and tight-knit, always greeting anyone with open arms and platefuls of food. It is in many respects a comforting environment to be in and I'm glad that my father-in-law has them.

But there are members of the family who are challenging, people that for whatever reason get under my skin. Under different circumstances, I might have objected to some of the things they said or did. But I didn't want to be difficult or appear unkind. I tossed and turned at night trying to figure out why I felt this way, why di this person or that person always bother me. Why did I let them get to me? And what should I do about it? I found no answers in those late night wonderings, only more questions. How do I become a better person? I want to be someone who isn't so quick to find fault with people. How do I not take innocuous comments that I find hurtful personally? My mother-in-law would laugh them off and her son, my husband, is able to do the same. But I can't. I am hurt and angered by them and I spend too much energy trying to deal with them by myself. But it is my goal to find some way to handle that hurt and anger better.