Funerals are, by nature, difficult. A life cut tragically short. A long life leaving behind loved ones and happy memories. A battle with illness come to its end. It’s natural to also feel conflicted, at times, at a funeral. In the last example, you feel relieved that the struggle and pain is over, but distraught that the life has ended.

But what happens when the deceased is, for all intents and purposes, a stranger? What if a stranger who was actually a family member? A relative died last night. I’m expected to fly to the funeral. But I didn’t know her; we met a handful of times. And what I did know I didn’t like; she once called me, after discovering I was queer, and talked to me about how I would die, alone, never having known love, of AIDS, and that my only salvation would be to get married, have a dozen children, and become as frum as possible (this coming from a completely secular woman who, I was told, hadn’t been to synagogue in decades).

The funeral would also mean being surrounded by the rest of the family. Family who never contacted me despite my reaching out to them when I moved to their city. Family who has zero respect for me.

After a death there are always emotions. As the black (pink?) sheep of the family, I feel like I’m grappling with all the wrong ones.

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