When I was very young, a whole generation died. All my great aunts and uncles. I was too young to really understand death, but old enough to miss them when they were gone. I wasn't allowed to go to their funerals, because I was too young.
One of my great aunts lived in New York and we had to drive there for the funeral. The kids stayed at the house until the adults came back from the funeral. I knew my great aunt had died, but I kept expecting her to walk in the door. I remember running around and then jumping down the stairs. I fell and skinned my knee and there was blood all over. I still have a scar on my knee from when I fell.
When I was in the 4th grade, the town where I grew up had too many students in the middle school, so some of us had to go to the school in the Parish Center. Many kids stayed after school for Catechism and I didn't know what that was. I knew it had something to do with being Catholic, but we were Protestant, so I didn't go. Thinking back to some cases that I read in law school, I wonder how this was constitutional, but I digress.
What I remember most was that for recess, we played out back in the graveyard. We had to move when they had funerals. It always scared me.
Since a young age, I've always thought about death. How sad it made me feel when family members died. And how funerals were so final and scary to me. I have these playtime recess memories, playing Hopscotch and Chinese jump rope between rows of graves.
Why am I remembering all these today? Because it's my birthday and I always loved my birthday. But since 2001, it became largely associated with horror and death. That day was horrible beyond words and I remember sitting with my family watching the news, being grateful that we were together and safe, but so sad.
Over the years since 2001, it became much happier and I hear of little kids born the same day and wonder how it is growing up with this date for a birthday. I at least had all the pre-2001 years without the strange death association.
Today I'm getting ready to go to a funeral for the family member of another family member. She was sick for a long time. I didn't know her very well, but she lived a very good life. Was loved by many. And will be truly missed.
I'm not doing what I thought I'd be doing today. But once again, this closeness to death, makes me contemplate the gift of life and how it goes by very quickly.
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