My cousin unexpectedly lost her husband this week. Then, yesterday I attended the funeral of my boyfriend’s uncle. It was also especially sad because it was unexpected. The funeral was up in the high mountains of Utah, and the drive there and back was beautiful. The day was long, but mostly pleasant and included a viewing, a service, a dedication of the grave, and a dinner with the family afterwards. I have a large extended family and many of them still live in the same area, but we don’t get together very often anymore. Z is part of a large extended family that is very close and loving, but is a bit more spread out geographically. They are also mostly Basque and louder and seem to love more aggressively than my immediate family. (Though I am also very close and loving with my family.)
Although the occasion was incredibly sad, it was also lovely. The mountains of Utah were at their best and the aspen trees were just starting to make bright green leaves. I had the opportunity to meet more of Z’s extended family. It’s a large and impressive family. The women are especially beautiful and the “aunties” are some of the most confident women I’ve ever met. Watching tens of people standing around chatting with the same noses and same coloring is kind of wonderful. Each one seems to have a musical talent, and they sang and played instruments all day.
Years ago, I fell in love with Z immediately. This time around, getting to know his family and seeing their genetic make-up seems more important to understanding who he is. It shouldn’t matter. He hasn’t been around some of these people in years. I know some of my extended family only peripherally. Some people are adopted. Some people choose their family. “Friends are the family we choose,” etc. But, in this case–in our case–these people all matter, family matters and tells part of the story of who we are to each other together and apart.