It kept running through my head on monday at my grandfather's memorial service, and it made me feel like a terrible person. But since it started with my mother and her siblings giggling uncontrollably through the prelude, I don't feel quite so badly.
I mostly sat there watching my family giggle and whisper in our pews at the front of the church, and I kept thinking (and may have commented to my darling cousin) that we are bad mourners. I've had a really good time at both family funerals I've been to this year, which is kind of boggling, because they were for both my maternal grandparents, the core of all family holidays. I think the world may fall apart this Christmas without Grandmum, the matriarch humming her way about the house, feeding everyone and scolding us goodnaturedly at every opportunity, and Grandpa's sarcasm, wit, and Pall Malls holding court over the livingroom...
These, theoretical readers, are two of the coolest people you'll never meet.
Anyways, as we were all laying claim to pieces of their home (pieces of their lives, I think), the thought kept returning that we're kind of horrible at all this, and as I took my turn driving a few hours on the long trip back home, it occurred to me to connect this experience--having fun and enjoying my family even as we were together to mourn the death of another superhero--to a conversation my little sister and I had a few months ago. It actually began in the context of relationships, but quickly expanded to take in more facets of life.
Someone told me not long before that conversation, that if they were told that they could never fall in love, never be a parent or a spouse, they wouldn't really see the point in living, and that was utterly inconceivable to me
(Admit it, we're all thinking it.
because there's nothing in my life I can say that about. I was telling Becca this, and she agreed with me.
If someone told me that I would never be published, never paint again, never be a parent, never travel the world, never get married, etc., yes, I would be crushed. I'd spend a few minutes in the mental fetal position wondering why I should even bother, but then I'd get up, and find something else to do with my life. If there's one thing I intend to do with my life, it's to survive it. And if I can't do that, I'm dead and my life is over anyway, so no problem.
Becca and I came to the conclusion that unless the world actually ends, it's not the end of the world.
This is an attitude that I've seen repeatedly in my family, though never actually named by any of us until my sister and I discussed it. We are a clan of survivors, and we've survived a fair share of crap. Some of the strongest, most amazing people I've met are related to me.
So maybe we're not bad mourners. Maybe we just understand that life goes on. Yes, we mourn. Yes, we appreciate what's been lost, but we don't lose sight of everything else in the face of that either, which I find to be a virtue rather than a flaw.