Revelations: Reporter ponders death
For the past few weeks, I've been thinking about death.
Not about mine, but about the deaths of my loved ones.
Am I prepared to deal with death, if one of them passes away?
In recent weeks, I've had five different friends tell me their mother, grandmother, friend, cousin or friend's father passed away.
As anyone would do for a grieving friend, I've been trying my best to let them all know I'm praying for them, and that I'm around if they need anything.
But with so much discussion on loved ones dying, I've been forced to reflect how I'm going to handle the death of my family members when and if they leave this Earth before me.
Even though my family wasn't always emotionally stable growing up, we have all worked in recent years to mend relationships and make amends for past hurts. Well, I should say, that we're at least trying.
You see, Preyss family crazy is probably a notch above regular crazy, and a notch below crazy-crazy. But we are close, and I wouldn't trade them for the world.
In fact, as I've matured, I've noticed what I once loathed about my family, I now find endearing.
What I once thought I could never forgive from my past, I've discovered, in fact, that I can and have.
And those apologies that were once so rare for me to offer are now frequently uttered from my lips, even if I don't feel responsible.
In short, God has been working on my heart, and theirs, for many years, trying to bring us back to a common bond.
It's amazing to watch, because I remember a few years ago I told my sister, "I don't think all the prayer in the world would salvage some of these relationships."
I was wrong. God is always bigger than I think he is, and ready to prove me wrong, even if it takes a decade or longer to do so.
But some of those relationships are easier to mend than others. And there's one man-to-man relationship among my kin that I would like to see progress above any other.
These men are dragging their feet, holding onto past hurts and refusing to give up control and submit to the past.
I watch how they interact sometimes and wonder why they never seem to realize that they don't have an unlimited amount of days together.
One day, one of them will die. And all the days, and all the energy they put into making sure they don't have a relationship will eventually result in someone's funeral. The one left behind will be plagued with regret and spend the rest of their life wondering why they didn't forgive and forget earlier.
Isn't that how it always goes?
Inevitably, someone always says, "Why didn't I tell (fill in the blank) that I (fill in the blank) before they died?"
I understand that some people have legitimate reasons for non-relationships with family members - abuse, affairs, addictions and violence.
But for most families, if there's a strained relationship somewhere, the root of it is always (for a lack of a better term) stupid. Someone made an off-color remark, a bad financial decision, had an argument about a child, or a fight about an old girlfriend or boyfriend that hasn't been around since the 1970s. Someone didn't love someone enough, or someone was too controlling, or they weren't around enough when they were growing up. You get the point. And yes, these things are hurtful. I've struggled with many of these things in my own family.
But as the years pass, I continue to ask myself, "What is the cost of non-forgiveness?" The cost, I've realized, is the loss of important relationships in my life.
What God has taught me through the trauma of growing up with Preyss family crazy, is that all relationships can be healed if people are willing to recognize that arguments are the act of two, and forgiveness is the act of one.
I hope one day those Preyss boys will come around with each other, and their relationship blossoms into something so beautiful, it could only be described as the work of God's hand.
And for now, I'll take comfort knowing that even if I'm not ready for the passing of my loved ones, at least I know when it comes time for death, those close to me will know I loved them. And that I never spent one day regretting what I should have told them when they were alive.
Jennifer Preyss is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org or @jenniferpreyss on Twitter.