I wasn't sure if I should go at first. My grief wasn't as acute as everyone else's. No tears waiting to be shed, no memories to reminisce over, no noted absence were I not to show up. But this was family, so I decided to go. Thought it would be the "right" thing to do.
And so I went. Went into a pub and was recognised. Hugged, remembered, loved.
Faces different but the same. Years of absence compressed, forgotten, unimportant. It felt good to be there, amongst the generations, taking my place in the family tree.
"How are you?" ... "How's your mum?" ... "How old are you now?"
We travelled to the service where so much of my flesh and blood had arrived they couldn't all fit in the chapel. We stood outside, hearing stories through the loudspeakers that talked of a man well lived and well loved. A poet, a dreamer, a builder, a father.
"He was my friend" ... "We married each other on a beach" ... "They're not supposed to take one of ours"
We go back to the pub, share stories and photographs and remark on the names planted generations ago but still present today. We are the set of each other's jaw, the shape of our noses, the curve of our brows. We gaze across the room, marvel at the amount of lives one man can touch and wonder if we really are all related.