…But Together We Have It All.
This is a love note to my mother’s family in memory of her birthday. Today, she’d have turned 63.
I’m on the last leg of my trip home after spending four days on the east coast with my family. The flight attendant just elbowed me in the head while pouring a Diet Coke on her refreshment round. No worries, I’ll take a sucker punch to the face in trade for avoiding a flight delay in the Twin Cities. Just get me the f#@% out of this blizzard.
It was my mother’s sister’s 70th birthday, and our family flew from all over the country to surprise her. There was never a question of my attendance; my aunt is my godmother and someone I’d drop everything for. There was never a moment when I wasn’t looking forward to seeing my relatives and how my cousins’ children (my “nieces and nephews”) have grown. It was more a lingering “here goes nothing” that became a palpable “yikes” as the trip approached.
I hadn’t seen the majority of my family since my mother died, and a lot has changed over those three years. And, well, the idea of sharing me now, and sharing emotions now, exhausted me before I even got off the plane in North Carolina. We’re not a quiet bunch, and many of my family members are health professionals, so I assumed this visit wouldn’t be without its moments drenched in tears, memories, and analysis.
20/20 hindsight: It was a phenomenal experience. Humorous, actually. Yes, there were funny moments of the trip, but to me it was humorous that my 2012 “mental health holiday in order to avoid medication or a heart attack” had put me exactly where I needed to be to get the best from the gathering. It was humorous that it took me this long to test the waters of how far I’ve come. Of course, I smoked cigarettes (which I always swear I’ve kicked), drank booze steadily, and ate food that set me back five years, but I wasn’t uncomfortable, angry, or sad.
I just was. No apologies.
Witnessing how thinning hair, thickened waist lines, and a few more wrinkles means we know more, worry less, love deeper, and squeeze tighter was the best therapy I could ask for. Observing the children as their own little persons while emulating their parents and grandparents gave me comfort that this special family—my family—is here to do good, to love and be of service, to keep people on their toes, and to make each other laugh.
What I experienced on my trip is valuable for me now. I’m committed to following my breadcrumb trail so I devour what’s truly appetizing: honoring my confidence that I do know what I’m doing, not being afraid to live full-out. I’m lucky to have a family who loves me, for better or worse… hell, a family who even reads this blog.
We just passed over the Rocky Mountains, and turbulence unsurprisingly jostled the plane. It serves as a great reminder that not all flying forward is smooth, but it’s manageable enough to get through with love. That’s what my family does. We get through, and we celebrate, always best with the assistance of each other.