Similar to the famous painting, my family appears charming and beautiful at first glance. And it is. I treasured my time with them this weekend. To be back among family, knowing the old jokes, the nicknames, the sideways glances, the nuances and gestures was water to my thirsty soul. Watching someone walk the same way I do. Seeing someone lift a cup of coffee to their mouth the same way my brother does, makes my heart squeeze.
What doesn’t appear at first glance is the missing pieces to this jigsaw of people. You have to look closer, peer harder, look around corners to realize that half of my family isn’t there. Like ghostly mirror images, the dead in my family reach out to tap me on the shoulder. I feel their hand brush lightly on my arm when I see a cousin, an uncle tweak up their mouth. Roll their shoulder. Walk in that particular stooping walk, bent at the waist. When I hear the slow, low words. The laughter.
They’re there. I miss them. I love them. I wouldn’t be here without them.