I made a joke a few weekends ago, not really thinking at all that it would come true and today that joke was in fact a reality.
John was asked by our very close friends to be the godfather for their second daughter, the baptism just so happened to be on the same day as my cousin's wedding which was also happening in the same church. We brought Luke with us to the baptism and then scooted him off to my brother's house to spend the day with his cousins. After getting him settled with my sister in law's parents we ran back to the baptism reception for half an hour before we were to head to the church again for the wedding. Everyone thought it was so funny that we had to attend a baptism and a wedding in the same church on the same day. I joked. I said that we were celebrating all of the sacraments at once. Then I realized a funeral is a sacrament, so I took it back and said, well we can skip the funeral thing, we only want to celebrate happy occasions.
Yesterday we had a funeral.
My father's sister passed away from brain cancer last Thursday night. She lived a short and tough life. I ache for her 13 year old son, he resembles my father at that age, the eyebrows, the lanky body. My father's picture lay by her side in the casket. It was a tiny Navy portrait, a young vibrant man full of promise and hope, determination and pride. After he passed away she was diagnosed and he became her guardian angel. She was always asking my mom for pictures of him to keep by her side and still he was there. Today I can only think that they are sitting down to cups of coffee with my grandparents, telling stories, remembering. It was a hard day as she was the first person in our immediate family to pass on after my father. The two youngest in their family are no longer here, that just doesn't seem to make sense to me.
I sat there, unable to look at Mark (her 13 year old son) wondering if my father was here what would he do? Would he take him out to lunch once a week and try to mentor him? Would he get him enrolled in Big Brothers/Big Sisters? I know he wouldn't be able to idly watch and not offer any help or support. I felt guilt for not having that in me. I feel like I do, but then I think of how little time I have for my own child. Is this selfish, should I buck up, should I do something, will it even be accepted if I try? He has ADHD and comes from a life I am so not familiar with, will I even know what to say?
Afterward we spent a few hours at my Aunt Phyllis's house. I listened to stories of their childhood, who was born at home, who was born in the hospital, how Aunt Pat always went into Aunt Phyllis's closet after she left for work and would rummage through her freshly starched clothes to pick out her outfit for the day and about the time she was caught doing so. Of course the conversation had to take a turn as the Center clan can never tell "clean" stories. All six kids have birthdays in November and December, I thought that was interesting, I didn't know that until yesterday. Aunt Phyllis piped up with, "well my father's birthday was in February! That was his present, once a year!" Oh my, I didn't need to know this about my grandparents! It was great comic relief though and so appropriate for the company.
Yesterday was another reminder that tomorrow isn't promised to anyone. I left work to pick up Luke, driving there I had tears in my eyes feeling so happy and lucky to have all that I have. I composed myself, got out of the car and saw him and the babysitter waiting for me at the door. He teetered and tottered and took 5 steps to me, unassisted, squealing with delight. It was the perfect end to such a sad day. I melted at he fell into me and wrapped himself around me.
I'm continually learning that I have to keep the past in the present and keep moving forward but realize that everyday is precious.
Rest in peace Aunt Debbie.