Well, so a beloved member of my family has passed.
I wasn't close to her, but, of course, I should have been.
Fortunately, the rest of my family -- all of whom are better at caring both about and for each other -- gathered and mourned. Circumstances prevented me from attending the funeral, but, now, on a late night nearly a week after her passing, I am suddenly stricken with loss.
But, because I have been such the prodigal son, I feel as if I have no claim to grief, for I did not share in any sort of fellowship or care for this loved-one before she left us. Which only makes me ache even more.
The best I can offer is meek remembrance: a faint memory of a woman on a farm who had a quick laugh and always seemed to regard me with a kind of generous bemusement, as if she knew, from the moment she met me, that the biggest dangers I would face would always be the ones I posed to myself. And yet she never failed to offer me some offhand generosity (a kind word, along with a glass of milk and a biscuit with apple butter), because, after all, I was family, however distant and tenuous the thread was that connected us.
So, as the gathering that I missed (for a woman I barely knew) disperses, and as my kin return to their homes after having shared their grief and paid their respects, I sit here with my usually-well-composed demeanor suddenly ripped open, exposed and raw.
I have a feeling she would have chuckled at such sentiment, again recognizing the kid who needed to be kept away from sharp things and large animals, if only for his own safety, and I can't help thinking that she would have had some sidelong comment, both funny and maybe a little biting, for this injured idiot who frets too much about things that can't be helped.
Rest in Peace, Grandma Brixey. You lived long and worked hard, raised a farm and a family with all their attendant woes and joys. And now your suffering has ended.
And this, such as it is, is my meager measure of respect and farewell. Not knowing you better is a loss I shall always carry.