This Thursday coming I have a funeral to go to. My cousin, N, has died and he was only a couple of years older than me, not even in his thirties yet. He has a young son, two older sisters and a mum who will grieve him, perhaps even more because their relationships with him were not always the easiest.
I remember him from my childhood, when he held the glamour of being a little bit older than me, but I haven't had any contact with him since his sister's wedding in 2001. To all intents and purposes he was a stranger to me, just a name I would hear mentioned every so often and yet I am deeply saddened by his death. I come from a close family, we all talk to each other and about each other and last night I was talking to another of my cousins, O, about the funeral. Talking to him I was able to finally express what it was that was upsetting me. No matter how little I knew him, he was one of 'us': one of my family, my people, my clan and the first one of my generation to be lost. There are only five of us now.
It's also made me worry anew about O. We spent much of our childhood together and during our teens we talked a lot on the internet. I view him almost as a brother, but he's had problems that have made our relationship difficult, many of the same problems N had. He is getting help and I hope that it's enough, that he can learn to be settled and content and I can have him back in my life. I don't want to be attending his funeral in a few years' time. He is funny and bright and caring and I wish he could see that in himself and feel that it is enough. I don't want to lose any more of our clan just yet - not for another fifty years at least.
I am trying not to dwell on the sadness. I have a slight tendency for morbidity, for focusing on an emotion until it overwhelms me and I don't want to do that. It's not helpful and it's not healthy. I want to focus on happiness where I can, embrace it and bring it into my life, because sadness and grief will force their way in when they must. Until that time I am working on my happy list.
- The ritual of Sundays spent with my husband
- Talking to my mum on the phone
- Making the same joke at the same time and both falling about laughing
- Regressing to childhood for a moment and hugging a soft toy
- When you have a good hair day
- Real wool woolly socks - so snuggly!
- Wrapping up warm when it's cold outside and the way a hat makes you feel stylish because you don't generally get to wear one
- The first day of the year you can go outside with just a sweater on
- Inspiration - for anything!
- Baking. It's like alchemy.
- Fairy Lights. Magical, twinkly and a little bit of Christmas magic year-round
- Family, because even when you hate them, you love them and you know that they'd be there if you really needed them, because they're your people.
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