This week has been one of the more emotional as the Staley family gathered together to say goodbye to Great Aunty Joan. She had indeed been a great aunty to her nephews, nieces, great nephews and great nieces during her 94 years of life. Of my 8 cousins most of us were there, plus our parents and a whole bunch of 2nd cousins once-removed or otherwise, a number of us coming from many miles away because she had been a huge presence in our lives. What I noticed properly for the first time is how important it is to celebrate in this way, with these people.
I’d say that we’re quite big on celebrations in my family, birthdays, weddings, funerals have all been intentionally marked and made a big deal of. Each time we get together we say ‘Let’s not wait so long before the next time’, and yet somehow, life gets in the way. But I don’t think that devalues the desire to get together, the recognition that family celebrations are an important, integral part of wider family life and without them we’d be poorer in heart and soul.
Our family has had what feels like more than it’s fair share of cancer, with each diagnosis it’s a reminder to gather together and celebrate because it’s impossible to see what the future holds. And while we have hope, because in this world while God’s people are still at work there will always be hope, something that Great Aunty Joan knew and lived her life by, we also know that time is precious which is what makes these times with our wider family precious times.