There are so many advantages to being part of a large family. Growing up one of seven kids with dozens of cousins was a blast. When I married Steve I added his siblings and large extended family. Now that we are middle aged (eek!), I get the added bonus of a gaggle of nieces and nephews. There are even a few in the next generation.
There is a down side, though. We attend a lot of funerals. In the past five years we've lost my dad and Steve's mom as well as three uncles and three aunts between us. I won't even get into losses for the extended family. All of these individuals lived wonderful lives, and most were over 80 years old, but a couple were shortchanged by 10 years or more. That still hurts.
Today I'm going to the funeral for Steve's Uncle Tony, a very kind man who was devoted to his church and his family. There was a service last night as well. Though it's sad to lose another family member, I found great comfort seeing many of Steve's cousins and their families there. Family comes together at times like these and you can feel the support in the room for Tony's wife Pat, and his kids and grandkids. You can't help but smile.
Last year my brother spoke at my aunt's funeral. I have to admit I tuned out at first, thinking about a million different things as he spoke because I was the person in charge of the funeral. I heard him listing various family members sitting around a table bantering back and forth. I started to pay closer attention because I noticed he left out my mother and her brother Jack, who were both present in the church at the time. I hoped he would correct himself, but I slowly realized he was talking about all those who had passed away. The image of all those family members from the two generations before me hanging out together in Heaven was wonderful and has stayed with me since that time.
Whatever you believe about the afterlife or God or anything else is entirely up to you. If there is something that comforts you, that's great. Right now it gives me comfort to think about Tony reunited with parents his two sisters and brother who went before him as well as his first wife who died as a very young woman. I hope they are enjoying a nice Portuguese feast.
I also hope there is no more room at that table for awhile.