Tonight is New Year's, a time for celebration.
My cousin Liz got married tonight. Even more of a reason to celebrate.
Nearly my whole extended family on my mother's side was there. My mother has four children and we were there in perfect attendence. My mother has four brothers and between them I have 13 first cousins and 3 step-cousins....and from there, in-laws and second cousins.
But there is one who is never there. Not every marriage that ends follows the model John Miller and I set of being friends after the divorce.
We rarely spoke of the missing one. To do so would hurt our uncle, my mother told us. But when we did, Mama Kelley told us not to worry.....when she was older, she would come looking for us. We waited for her to turn 18 or 20. When she didn't come, Mama told us that she would come when she had a child because that makes people reflective on their own roots. When Mama Kelley passed away - it will be 11 years on January 28th - I remember thinking how badly I felt for my missing cousin. She would never know Mama Kelley. I can't even express to you what a loss that is. Mama Kelley was the bomb. She was a riot. She was charming and witty and always knew what to do. And what to say. One of my favorite stories was of Mama Kelley talking to her cousin who was in the dumps becauses his leg had just been amputated. Mama said "Well you have another one." then they both laughed so hard and he told her "Grace, I am so happy I came to see you!" She was just what he needed. To this day, that story can make all of us crack up because that was who she was. Just the right thing and everyone wanted to be near her.
My mother's side gets together for all the standards....weddings, showers, christenings, wakes and funerals. But we also meet every December for Christmas and every summer for 4th of July. My mother and her brothers get together for dinner once a month. Most Fridays, my mother and father have lunch with her older brother, Frank and his wife. My Uncle Walter lives right behind our parents house.
So many happy gatherings. Not everyone makes every party, but we all try. We all get along and are happy to see each other.
But not one of these things happen that I don't think of the one who is missing.
Finally, her sister made a point of finding her. We were so happy and excited. When would we all get to see her? We were told not to ask. It would happen as she and her father wanted. Just wait.
So we waited.
And tonight, for her sister's wedding........she was there.
3 years ago