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Today, my 16 year old niece is hosting a Celebration of Life for her dad. My brother died exactly three weeks ago.  Families can sometimes fracture when faced with suffering. His oldest daughter was considered his Next of Kin. She moved far away six years ago. She never came forward after his death.

His daughters are ten years apart in age. He was a single parent. By law, as his siblings, we had to wait the mandatory ten days before we could legally step in. We claimed his body. His cremation has been ordered. Closure can finally begin.

My own grandmother lost her father when she was 16. Her mom had died four years before. Grandma Genevieve had a sister who was older by 15 years. In a profoundly sad and painful way, history repeats.

For this Celebration of Life, I was searching through a frayed photo album I inherited after mom died. She must have acquired it following dad’s death. It had belonged to his mother, my grandmother. It was filled with the typical array of classic family photographs; newborns, graduates, brides, etc.  Safely secured in the dead center of the album; there was a single, solitary letter; envelope included.

The saved letter was from her older sister. In unsteady but deliberate handwriting this document said:

“Dear Genevieve, I can’t stand your absence any longer. I hope you have not been ill or are sick. It’s a long time since I have not seen you- just drop me a line para apari guar me, it’s not a happy feeling- don’t use the phone because I can’t hear too well. I love you, Your Sister Sarah.”

The Hispanic side of my family used English and Spanish interchangeably.” Para apari guar” means; to pacify me. Aunt Sarah died three years later and just two months after she died, my grandmother died.

After I read this letter, I couldn’t stop thinking about how critical it is to forgive.

I grieved hard for their loss. Something had happened between my grandmother and her sister. I’ll never know what it was, but I do know this; forgiveness is the only way to truly rest in peace. Death happens to us all. Go in peace.