The gloomy room filled with family members dressed in their best clothes. The men wore their suits. The women wore their finest. No one smiled. It was a solemn day.
I shook hands with a great uncle. “Good to see you again, Ivan. I’m sorry it’s under these circumstances.”
“Nice to see you again, Mike.” He held my hand. “When was the last time we met?”
“I think it was at Sim’s funeral.” I held back tears. Sim was my granddad. I loved him. Ivan was Sim’s brother.
“It’s been that long?” Ivan asked.
“Yes, it’s been that long. I’m sorry! I should have stayed in touch,” I apologized.
I walked around the room, held hands and hugged people I haven’t seen in many years. We gathered for the death of a loved one.
“When was the last time we saw each other?” another relative asked.
Once again, I mentioned another funeral.
Why did I wait? Why did they?
Why did we wait so long?
Why didn’t we stay in touch? We were family.
Through the open doors to the chapel, I saw the casket with another member of our family resting. The last time I saw him was at another’s funeral. It was too late to stay in touch with this person now.
I hugged my mum, shook hands with my brothers and uncles, and held grieving aunts. Everyone was there to show their respects to a life lost. The whole family in one place at a bad time.
We gathered for happy times—weddings—but it was under the clouds of grief at funerals the majority appeared. It saddened me. Families should get together more often.
I’m thousands of miles away from my family now. If something happens, I won’t be there when the remaining members gather. I’ll just have Ginny to share my grief, but she’s never met my family. She’ll know my pain but not them.
The other day, I learned of the passing of an Internet friend—Fred Moore. Fred and I met on the Internet chat for the forty-plus generation. I found the group back in the late 1990s and spent a lot of time making friends there.
Over the years, I had the opportunity to meet a few. I met a few members in Toronto. Another year it was in Montreal. A group of us even met in Saint John, New Brunswick.
Life moved on. We changed and found other interests. A few of us still email. The old chat room dwindled down to just a few members signing in on irregular schedules.
On the day of Fred’s passing, I signed on for the first time in many months. There, like my family, was all the old gang. They’d come to express their thoughts and feelings and offer condolences to Fred’s daughter. Her mother died a few years ago. Fred is with his wife again. The rest of us will move on, but I hope we meet again under happy circumstances.
A death brings people together, just as disasters do. I wish happiness brought us together more.
Why does death bring us together?
Michael T. Smith