The Unexpected Present

Rooted in Life, Rooted in Love


Reunions are joyful occasions, especially with loved ones. Having loved ones around for the sad life moments may be the only way one can get through tough emotional times like the funeral of a young person. Saying goodbye to a young man, a forty-three-year-old in his prime, was especially difficult. It was sudden and a shock.

It was love that people came together to remember the dearly departed, Michael, and I learned some very lovely and personal things about him. It was love that brought the people together and will keep them together. We all felt the grief the two remaining brothers were feeling. A question raised amongst us– how hard is it to lose a sibling? Then again, the question that may have beat that card is how hard can it be for a parent to lose a child? The brothers lived through the funerals of both parents and now must deal with such sadness for their brother. My heart went out to the heart-wrenching pain of this young man’s aunts, uncles, and cousins. They are holding onto one another.

We’re finding there’s no need to be concerned about the result of any scheduled event; things will turn out better than expected. The repast took place in the church hall in the parish I grew up in. This hall which was once a school auditorium staged concerts and Christmas plays. It was a place where the grandmothers made varenyky by the thousands to support the school. It held family events, christenings, graduations, and our wedding reception. We sat with Michael’s family (his mother, Oksana, and uncle Roman grew up with Yuri) and spoke of the connections the siblings from the first generation had, compared to the cousins that remain in the family network spread out like the mushroom mycelia that interconnect different tree roots. In this parish, the elder and the younger members came together, reconnected, interconnected, and vowed to do better by staying connected.

That evening we talked about the day long into the night and the meaning of it all. Questions arise, why him? Why at this moment? And that’s where the priest spoke gently about having faith, comforting the many who came to honor and remember Michael. It may not matter the age or the cause; the grief can be like a tsunami hitting an emotional nerve when you least expect it. It will be twenty-five years since my mother died. At the time, the sadness and grief were overwhelming. My professor in art history wrote me a note that I carried with me for a long time– that when the time is right, I will be able to put this sorrow into its proper perspective. She was right. In the end, it’s all about love.

We felt the love from our friends who invited us for a Sunday afternoon meal. A fortunate find– a traditional Ukrainian food mart in Lord’s Valley, PA. We were treated to a traditional Christmas Eve sampling of tastes and flavors that reminded us of our childhood days when Sunday afternoon luncheon gatherings were commonplace. The conversations would encompass all topics, and different courses would come out, tempting us to put a bit more on our plates. It was a delightful show of friendship, love, and connection.

Our afternoon stretched into the early evening, and as the winter light faded into a clear starlit evening welcoming the full moon, the Wolf Moon, we made our way back home.
The emotional experience from the weekend becomes more than the event it is attached to. We have been dealing with a tough emotional cycle in our lives, and the community settings are a welcome sentiment, especially among the people we consider family, extended family, community family, and parish family. It shows us that we will transcend these difficulties and begin a new chapter in life.

I look forward to the conclusion of the emotional “roller coaster” ride Yuri and I have been on, resting on a sense of forthcoming well-being and emotional completeness. We do not feel like a piece of our emotional self is missing. We have a sense of belonging, complete and joyful, with the potential to share this fulfillment we are experiencing. We are puzzle pieces put together as part of the Universe.

All good emotions, particularly love. We look forward to an everyday life full of joy, pleasure, and harmony in the New Year. It’s all about love.

I’ll Be Missing Your Love  music & lyrics by Yuri Turchyn

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