After I heard the news about my Aunt Cecilia's death, my daughter Elizabeth and her husband told me that Elizabeth would be happy to fly out to Missouri with me for Aunt Cecilia's funeral. They didn't want to pressure me into going, since I am still terrified of flying, but wanted me to know that if I wanted to go, she would be able to go with me. (I still haven't been able to fly alone.) I was very grateful for the offer, and decided I would go.
I had to cancel or reschedule a bunch of doctor's appointments and my horn lesson, buy train tickets to and from LA and book the hotel in LA for both of the nights I'd be there. My son-in-law took care of booking the flights and the hotel in Hannibal where Elizabeth and I would stay. My second daughter dropped me off at the train station, and Elizabeth picked me up in LA, we had some time together with her family, and then she took me to my hotel. In the morning, we were off to St. Louis.
There was some turbulence on the way to St. Louis, and although I took my medication, there were still some white knuckle moments. Elizabeth told me that their 7 year old daughter Cecilia (who is named for my aunt) was also afraid of turbulence, and that when they were going to Asia, Cecilia announced that she would pray that there wouldn't be any turbulence. Elizabeth said there was quite a bit of turbulence as they were heading into Tokyo, but when they landed, Cecilia calmly announced that she had prayed for no turbulence, and her prayers had been answered. When Elizabeth told her that in fact there had been some turbulence, Cecilia seemed surprised. However, all the way through the tunnel from the plane to the airport, Cecilia raised both hands in the air and shouted, "Praise the Lord!" We are not really a charismatic family, but when we landed in St. Louis safely, I felt like doing the same thing, except that I was juggling my French horn and my purse and didn't feel quite as light hearted as my granddaughter had.
We stayed overnight in Hannibal, and early the next morning drove out to the little country church where my aunt had spent her entire adult life. I have 39 first cousins, and I spent a good deal of time before the funeral trying to guess which cousin was which (I could almost always guess which family they were from). Elizabeth was already in the pew when I finally made it into church, and several relatives told me later they were pretty sure she was my daughter. They were far more complimentary than one of my visits as a child to my grandparents' church where my mother had grown up.
I was about 10, and some woman whom I didn't know came up and asked if I was her daughter. When I said yes, she said, "Oh, I knew you must be because you have the same profile!" I was extremely sensitive about my nose at that time, and I knew she was really saying that my nose was too big. It took my father a year when I was sixteen of coming home every day and telling me how much he liked my nose before I gave up wanting a nose job. I was convinced he was just saying that to make me feel better, but it recently occurred to me that since he loved my mother, profile and all, he was probably telling the truth!
The funeral was a beautiful celebration of my aunt, who had been married over 50 years, raised and loved 10 children, wrote two regular newspaper columns for over 25 years, was active in her church and in prison ministry, and wrote a card or an encouraging note to someone every day. Many of the people who were there said they still had something she had written to them decades before.
Afterwards the church hall was the scene of a dinner (this is the country, so it was at noon) where I reconnected with another aunt and many of my cousins, one of whom I hadn't seen since I had babysat him a long time ago. There was laughter as well as tears, and it was good to be back with so much of our family. We stayed with one of my aunt's daughters and her husband, who now live near St. Louis, the last night, and it was good to decompress with them, as being plunged into a maelstrom of cousins at a very emotional time was ultimately exhausting for this introvert.
The flight back was not as turbulent and when I finally got home, I was wrung out.
It took me three days to finish unpacking, and although it has been over a week, I still feel drained emotionally. I'm glad I went, but there's no place like home.