It's the day I go home from Reno and I'm ready. Not because I haven't had a good time, which I have, but because three days is about all I can handle of being away from my regular routines.
This has been a very nice visit, with just the right amount of time spent with the FS's inlaws and a goodly amount of time spent with the FS, the FDIL, and the FGKs. We have eaten gargantuan meals, I have spent (or charged) moderately, and we have talked and talked and talked. It's been good, intimate conversation, both with people I know well and people I'm just coming to know.
The aura of grief is heavy, though, for this is the first Christmas without the patriarch of the family, and it's a painful time for all. Grief is never an easy time and it's always complicated by family dynamics, which are more pronounced and more painful during a time like Christmas. It's been quite a life lesson for me to see how very difficult it is. It's been a long time since I was part of a grieving family that was struggling to stay connected while trying to be honest and yet sensitive to the many tendrils of grief that can ensnare one by surprise.
My dad died early too, at age 60, and though I have no way of gauging how bad it was for my mother, it was plenty bad for us kids, who had relied on Dad as the patriarch. We had to redefine our relationships with each other, with our mother, and with our own mates and children, now that we had lost this human pivot point in our lives. And it's terribly hard.
We did our best, but we were just as "insensitive" as human beings naturally are, as we try to acknowledge our own grief while being aware that others are also grieving and trying not to step on toes but doing it anyway, because we simply can't help it.
It's a time for huge doses of understanding and sympathy but it's often impossible for those within the family circle to supply them adequately when they are themselves so bereft. It's a very painful time for all who are part of the circle, whether blood relatives or more distantly related.
I have come to care for these new family members very much and they are in my prayers always, that their faith and love for each other will help them come through this tough time. I hope that gradually the pain will lessen and they can again experience joy in life, with memories that lighten the grief a bit and sweeten their time together.