my cousins and i all grew up together. every summer we swam in grama's pool from sunrise til sunset...or later. we would line up around the edges inside the jacuzzi and chant "WE WANT FOOD! WE WANT FOOD!" and wait for grama to to bring us out some lunch or dinner. we would parade down Bushard making our way to the beach with our prosession of beach cruisers trailering our surf boards and bikes behind Dalton's bike. we went to school together. we went to church together. we did everything together.
none of us ever really had to make too many friends because our cousins were our best friends.
two weekends ago we sadly lost one of our best friends, Aramis.
Aramis always had the sweetest spirit and was always happy.
he had the gift of being able to meet a person for the first time and make them feel like they had known each other forever. he was grampa's favorite...and everyone knew it! i remember when Aramis was younger (and he lived with our grandparents) grampa got him matching slippers. everynight before they'd go to bed they'd take off their slippers at the bedside and grampa would slip Aramis's slippers inside his and place them neatly next to the bed. whenever my son and i would stop by grama's house he'd always come give us both a hug and say hi. i'm going to miss those.
it was a [ bitter ] occasion for all the fam and cousins to gather for but [ sweet ] to be reunited once again.
it felt like old times.
everyone was at grama's. swimming together. eating together. staying up late every night. late night Del Taco runs. telling stories for days. laughing together.
due to certain circumstances, it was decided by our parents that that the younger generation ( Aramis's siblings and all of us cousins) were to put together the program for Aramis's funeral. so we all sat together in grama's living room and put pictures together, made a slideshow, decided what hymns were to be sung, who was going to give the opening and closing prayer, which siblings/cousins were going to speak, and any other musical numbers.
Aramis's funeral turned out beautiful. those of his siblings and cousins who spoke did a great job and spoke of the simple truths of the Gospel, the Plan of Salvation, and the Atonement. his service was finished with a closing hymn "How Great Thou Art" (1st verse in English, 2nd Maori, and 3rd Tongan) sung by all of us cousins. the Spirit was definitely present in the room that day.
following the funeral service everyone walked out of the church building onto the front lawn where these stickers my Uncle Troy had made were passed out to all (members and non-members)...
...signifying the love of our family to yours and that "Families are Forever".
everyone also received a white balloon in remembrance of Aramis...
...after my uncle's direction we all let go at the same time.
quick pic of all of us cousins afterwards...still missing some though.
Heavenly Father really shows us how [ strong ] we are through our most difficult trials when we realize we can do something we thought we never could.
and through these great trials our testimony of the gospel is [ strengthened ] and our family bond becomes [ undefeated ].
i'm grateful for my family.
they're my [ heaven here on earth ] and i couldn't image [ eternity ] with anyone of them missing from it.
we're going to miss you Aramis.
...'til we meet again.
"whanau mo ake tonu"