One week ago today, my husband called me at work with devastating news. His cousin, Jacob, was killed in a car crash. I was shocked when I received the news. It did not seem real to me. My first thoughts were not just of how my husband would handle this news, but how would his family handle it?
Hubby comes from a large, close knit family who are together constantly. We live approximately sixty miles away from the rest of the family, which makes us the “odd” family out. Sometimes you would think we live six hundred miles away, the way my in-laws seem to miss us and the kids. But it could be worse. They could have been a family that is detached and does not miss us at all. It is actually a little like living the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (love that movie) except it would be titled “My Big Fat Wisconsin Family.” Nia Vardalos says at the end of the movie, “My family is big and loud but they're my family. We fight and we laugh and yes, we roast lamb on a spit in the front yard. And where ever I go, what ever I do they will always be there”, and she is absolutely correct. Well, I have yet to see them roasting lamb in the front yard, but the rest is true.
This has never been more evident than in the light of the recent tragedy. I first really saw it at the wake, when I watched family members seamlessly rotate through the receiving line to support Jacob’s mom, sister, and grandma. I never saw anyone engage in a deep discussion about what to do, but simply stepped in and out, as if it was a understanding between them all and words were not needed. It was a beautiful dance that I was watching. The next day I witnessed it again and again, as the entire family helped guide, uplift, and support each other through the funeral and the hours beyond. There were no feelings of distraction from anyone, everyone was so completely present in their moment.
How blessed am I to have married into such an amazing family? This is something I hope to impress on my own children. They are part of a family who will always be there for them, through the good, the bad, and everything else in between. They are there for the celebrations and the devastations. Always giving but never asking for repayment. This is something which cannot be easily found; I almost missed it myself. So I plan to hold on to it from now on, and try to share it with others.