Family Gatherings · 23 October 2021

I love family gatherings. But I do not always like the reasons for family gatherings.

We have had family gatherings for the Matsushima and Miyoshi families since I was a kid. We gathered on the farms for work and play and food. We gathered in places of worship for weddings. We gathered at special places for family reunions. And on many of those occasions, both families gathered. There was no sign of family feuds like between the Hatfields and McCoys. Or the Montagues and Capulets. Or the Jets and the Sharks. Our reunions, whether small or large, planned or spontaneous, were always full of love. And food. (Did I already mention food?)

At any rate, those gatherings were always great places to catch up with each other and just be together. I guess that is where the word gathering comes in. We gathered together to be together. (Maybe it is where the word together comes in.)

Which brings me to the sad part. Not all family gatherings are for happy occasions. After all, people leave. Sometimes people just move to a different place. Those goodbye occasions are no fun. But sometimes people move on for good. They pass away, as they say. And we hope that they go someplace better. A place without pain. A place full of love. A place where we hope to meet again. But even with all the hope, it is sad to say those final goodbyes.

Which brings me to today.

As I write this, I know that the near future will bring a family gathering. A family gathering for a last goodbye. Family and friends will gather at the church to say a final farewell to my mom. It will surely be sad. But it will be happy too. For I know that I will see her again when I go to meet my Maker. To paraphrase the group Casting Crowns, the only scars we will see then will be in the hands of the One who holds us. And so I celebrate my mom’s life and look forward to the day I will see her again in the arms of Jesus. But I will still cry many tears because she has left us for now.

I know that a big part of the healing and grieving process is remembering the good times. It is remembering the person who has left. And it is sharing those memories with others. Which will be a good part of the gathering to say goodbye to my mom. We will visit with each other and talk about how wonderful she was. We will remember the times that she and my dad were together. We will remember the times we shared together. We will laugh. We will cry. But we will remember.

Which is a big part of getting together. We get together to remember that we like to be together. We get together to appreciate our life. Not just the life of the person who has left, but the life of those who are still left.

Which is why I love family gatherings. We get together to celebrate life. Even when the reason we get together might be to commemorate the end of someone’s life on earth.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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