So, for background information: I am the 4th of 5 children, and grew up in a modest, loving home with nurturing parents. When my mother died from a stroke, I was a sheltered and shy 21-year-old. I married a few months later (without taking the time to grieve), and then had twin boys within a year. Three years later I had a daughter, and then struggled for several years with postpartum depression complicated by unresolved grief, whiplash from an accident, and a marriage that went bad. I eventually recovered, but I still feel the effects of it on occasion, and I understand how painful depression is.
Nearly 5 years after my mom died my dad married Kathy, who was not evenly remotely like my mother. They were married for almost 28 years when she passed away last week. Kathy, for whatever reason, was not very willing to share Dad (or her family) with my siblings and me. There has been a fair amount of pain and other complicated emotions involved in my relationship with her; mostly dealing with the feeling of rejection. I was more than a little nervous about attending her funeral because I wasn't sure what to expect.
I went to Boise with my brother and sister-in-law and met up with our extended family. We were so happy to be all together again for the first time in more than 8 years. It was heavenly. We hadn't had a comfortable place to gather for all those years since my mother's death until my brother built his new house in McCall 3 years ago. The realization that we can get together more often means a great deal to me, and I am terribly excited about the possibility of getting to spend Christmas with them, which would be the first time for me since I was a college kid in 1975.
Kathy had been a big part of the performing arts in the area, and the service was a very nice combination of musical concert wrapped in a religious ceremony. One of her sons delivered the eulogy and made special mention of my dad; I felt the healing begin. At the reception afterward, her friends and family were warm and welcoming and went out of their way to tell me about how wonderful my father is. I could see that he is well-respected and loved, and that also helps me heal. I came home with a great sense of well-being and peace.
I still have some work to do in letting go of negative emotions related to her, but I am hopeful about it. I learned a long time ago, when I was dealing with my first husband and that divorce, how important it is to forgive. I made the mistake of burying my hurt and anger, and it came back several years later with a vengeance. I discovered that forgiveness is a process of being willing to examine hurtful memories, analyze them, then let them go. The trick is to not dwell on them too long, although sometimes that's easier said than done. It is not necessarily a quick fix, but eventually the hurt eases, and it feels so good to be free of the pain.
David and I both felt that he should stay home this time and go to his family's reunion with his mother and several of our children. He ended up having a good time, and had a long heart-to-heart talk with one of his cousins whose wife committed suicide after a long bout of depression. David came through his weekend alone quite well, although on one of his late-night walks Sunny the poodle got skunked. Guess who ended up giving him a bath? It's reassuring to know that I can be gone on occasion, and he'll be (relatively) all right.