My vacation-thus-far has been driven by my tentative schedule of expectations-of-myself, appointments, a family reunion and a slight change of plans as our family gathered one more time to attend my aunt's funeral.
All-in-all, it has been a very family oriented holiday, with my down-time (supposedly) invested in assembling my dad's family history book. The gift of this book is the unexpected emails or phone calls or visits from my family. Even when I was savoring the quiet of some unexpected days at home, the time was sprinkled generously with all-things-family.
My mom's extended stay meant that she (and me, by extension) had the time to drop by and visit with each one of my sons and admire their respective works-in-progress within their lives and homes.
I have been immersed in my dad's family's memories (resulting in this bonus company and interaction); a family reunion with Mom, my siblings and their children; my mom's sister's funeral (a reunion of a slightly different nature but a 'reunion' all the same); my own children; and a bonus visit from my brother and his wife (who had been unable to attend our own family reunion).
I have been completely and totally immersed in family - from all sides of our family. It has felt as natural as breathing to be so completely surrounded in family, phone calls and personal contact.
Then suddenly, I walked in the door at the end of my Final Farewell (coffee and a donut on the outskirts of the city) as I saw off my mom, my brother and his wife this afternoon. My heart sunk with a thunk so loud that I think I heard it land on the kitchen floor.
I was home. I stepped back into life-as-I-know-it-and-expect-it--to-be, with no up and coming family reunions or plans or gatherings. I was exactly where I wanted to be. Except I didn't want it to feel this way!
I felt like I was walking through a deep and dark bog as I made my way down the hallway to find the sheets that I needed to wash. One. forward. step. at. a. time. I can do hard things. Just keep moving forward. I kept urging myself.
It was hard work but I was doing it. I had just hit the point in my day where hunger was guiding me and I heard (what I thought was) the sound of a car door closing in close proximity to our kitchen window. And that is exactly what it was!
I was so excited that I could barely contain my joy when I saw my Middle Son and His Girlfriend open the back gate and walk in. "Family! Family!! Oh, how I have missed you so!!" I enthusiastically greeted said son and girlfriend. I think My Son thought he had come to the wrong house. He has never been greeted in such a fashion.
"Come in! Sit down! Do you want a drink? I was just going to make myself some cheese and nachos!!" Hmmm, a joyous greeting, hospitality and the offering of food?!? Just who is this person, My Son must have thought.
My Son, His Girlfriend and Their Two Dogs unofficially moved out (it all started as 'a weekend at the farm' and they simply never came home, other than to pick up mail or what-they-needed ever since) on July 4th. We are almost at our one month anniversary of independent living and I was so lonely for their company. Most especially after the descent back to earth after my family-oriented holiday.
We sat down at the table and visited like long, lost friends. We talked about nothing and something and everything all at the same time. It was lovely.
The flow of words started to slow down and I felt My Son's body language signalling that the time had come for them to say good-bye. But he wasn't saying it. We chatted about things-that-don't-matter for a little while longer. Then he said it, "Are you okay if we leave now? We really have to get home to our puppies..."
Yes, I was fine again. All was right in my world. My globe was back on its axis and spinning ever-so-gently to the rhythm of life-as-I-know-it.
It was time to 'come home' again. Home to the life we live each and every day. I had missed it so. I was so grateful that it - our home, my Youngest Son, our Two Cats and my uncompleted book project were all present and accounted for. I just had to step back in where I last left off.
I can't begin to imagine the void that I will feel when this Family Book Project ends. It will leave a cavern of emptiness in its wake. It has been the best family reunion of all. But it is getting heavy. Very heavy. And I must return to the process of putting the final two words to it (that My Brother so generously offered to me, to finish off the book) "The End".
Except, it will not be The End. It will simply be The Beginning of the next chapter/book of our lives. Life is never-ending. Even when it (seemingly) ends. That is what the (far too many) funerals that I have attended this year has taught me. It is all about the memories.
Make memories whenever you can. Document them in some fashion so that you can leaf back on those happier times when you are feeling a little lost. Cherish those moments-in-time that cost not a penny, but are priceless in their value. For when you are faced with the after shock of living life-as-you-know-it again, you are rich when you have those memories to draw on.