My mind is full, but my thoughts are still jumbled. I have said in the past that words can be a healing balm or full of bitter poison, and found that to be true once again this week. I do not feel the need to defend anything I have written as my words were not meant to hurt or offend. Each one sees the world from a slightly different perspective and last week I had the opportunity to see a little piece of it through the eyes of others, not just my husband and his sisters, but my father in law's family in California.
My husband was born on a US Air Force base in Japan. His family has, for most of their lives, been exposed to the culture and customs of the Asian people. They have enjoyed authentic Asian foods, seen faraway lands, and learned simple Japanese phrases. I have never had the honor of such privileges so everything about it is still new. Two days in the home of near to perfect strangers is hardly a chance to come to know and appreciate such things, especially when everyone involved is grieving.
My father in law had two distinct families who came to together last week to honor the man who ties them together. One family has had him for the past 40 years. They have come to know and love him well. Their hearts ache for the presence of the one they love. The other family, the one I know, aches for the father they never had a chance to know, the one whose presence they have missed for most of 40 years. We have tried for much of that time, in our own ways, to mend fences and break down barriers, but didn't always know quite how to bridge the gap.
Relationships have grown through the years. When Jimmy was born I wrote letters, "Dear Grandpa," "Love, Jimmy". After all, they had the same name. There were occasional phone calls, like the one that got me out of bed in the middle of one dark night. There were sporadic visits. I have met my father in law three times in the past 28 years, the first at a family wedding. There were pictures and emails. He once refferred to me as his "email buddy," but really getting to know him was a mountain we never overcame.
So, two families grieved together and yet alone, in the same place, at the same time, and for the same man, in different ways. I watched my husband hold his weeping stepmother in his arms and for a moment the families almost became one... who knows, maybe it will still come to be.