Family time is crucial

Published 3:54 am Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mike and I decided to do a little shopping and have lunch in Slidell after church was over. We were just sitting down to a nice lunch when I happened to glance at my phone and noticed an odd message from my cousin in Virginia.

I sucked in my breath when I read the words, “Please call a.s.a.p.”

“Mike, look at this message. I wonder what has happened? Something is wrong.”

With those words I began calling other family members to see if they had heard. My cousin, Frances had received the exact same message while she was in church and was just as puzzled as I. Soon our phones were buzzing with messages back and forth until we finally found out what was wrong. The husband of one of our cousins had died unexpectedly from a heart attack.

We were all shocked and saddened to hear the news, but started making arrangements to make the trip to Brookhaven in support of our family member. This scenario is played out daily in families across the world, but for the people involved the loss is all encompassing, at least for a while.

When my own late husband died I felt so lost. It was as if the world kept on spinning, but my own life ground to a halt. For a long while I could only keep going through the motions of living. Slowly, slowly the pain subsided, and I could take a deep breath. Slowly I started to feel alive again, but it took me a very long time. Some say the more you love a person the more pain you feel at their passing, and I believe it. I thank God that he walked me through that difficult time.

My brothers and I will travel together to pay our respects. It seems a shame that it takes an event of this magnitude to make us all stop what we are doing and make a real effort to see our extended family. We all had so many things going on in our own lives and families that we didn’t get together this past Christmas. We talked about it, but that is as far as it went.

We are all saddened at the loss of our cousin’s dear husband, and we will all talk about how we really need to make a point of getting together more often. But will anyone truly take the initiative to make that happen? There is a lot of work involved for one thing. Also hosting an event can get quite expensive, but at times like these I regret that I didn’t make more of an effort to get the family together last year.

Regrets don’t do anyone any good unless they lead us to action. My siblings and I will have plenty of time to chat on the way to Brookhaven. I’ll have a captive audience to make my case for getting together more often. Sounds like a good chance to plan a family party!

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at