It’s a funny thing, death. Each branch of theology has a different way of dealing with it, as well as each different kind of personality. Some want proceedings completed as soon as possible, others can wait as long as they choose. Some have only one ceremony, while still others have more. Is it easier on the ones who are left to be reminded over and over what they are going through, or is it best to say goodbye quickly and grieve quietly behind closed doors? These were the thoughts that were going through my head on Wednesday evening as I walked through the church doors to my grandfather’s rosary. I don’t know the answer, and obviously there isn’t one. All I know is I took this much harder than I had anticipated.
Growing up, I didn’t really have a relationship with my Papa. I loved him, sure, but he wasn’t the type that loved to be around kids. And I was not one of those “wise beyond her years” type of child; I was an annoying, needy, pain in the ass. But as I got older, and he mellowed into old age, we started to pay attention to one another and take notice of the other’s character. I only hope that he liked what he saw in me as much as I saw in him.
Not only was saying goodbye to this amazing man hard on me, but I also had to say goodbye to all of my amazing family members. Again. Now you see, everyone claims it, but in my case it really is true: my family is better than yours. We are strange, we Nealons, in the way that we do better when we are all together. You can feel the tear in the safety blanket when we start to trickle out the door to our own homes, and we don’t feel as cozy as we head to our own beds. So the fact that every member of our amazing family was together during this past week was quite comforting to me in my state of jet lag. I literally could not have had the strength to come back for this event had I not been coming back to them. I hope they know how much they mean to me, both individually and as a collective, as they actually are. I admire each and every one of them, and cannot imagine my life without them. It was especially touching to have my Texan mother there, as well as the outpouring of sympathy from several close friends. “I am blessed” does not even begin to describe how I feel about the people in my life.
And so, while waiting to board my 3rd international flight in less than 2 weeks, I want to tell you all: I love you. Thank you for helping, even if you aren’t trying; thank you for trying when it is clear that I need it, but won’t admit it; and thank you for not rolling your eyes and telling me to shove off when I have waited too long, and the only way I can get something accomplished is with a little help. I hope this finds everyone well, and I am glad that I cannot end this with “Danny Boy” playing in the background. (but seriously, guys, a little bit of a head’s up would have been awesome for that 🙂 )
Farewell, America. I really don’t want to be seeing you again for quite some time…