Last weekend I spent time with people I haven’t spent time with in a while, people who don’t share my last name, but are family all the same and who loved my mom a lot. We all live in different states now, and there are children and busy schedules and not enough time and missed opportunities that made this weekend tough to make happen. And there’s the feeling like how can we be together without her, it doesn’t feel fair, it doesn’t feel right, it’s going to be too hard—the stuff that is silently acknowledged that made this weekend tough to make happen too. And that’s probably why I was nervous during our 4-hour drive to Florence, AL. I tried to sleep and I couldn’t. I told Dad I was too wired, but I didn’t feel wired. I felt anxious. I kept that to myself though because I didn’t want him to worry. Although, I don’t think I hid it very well. I didn’t talk all that much during the drive and when I did, I somehow managed to make things like “are you excited to see everyone” sound like an interrogation for which he could not possibly provide a satisfactory answer.
But when we made it to Florence and got out of the car, it all melted away. I didn’t know why at the time, but I’ve thought about this weekend a lot over the last few days, and I realized it was because we’ve not been standing still in our grief. It’s been a journey to get to this weekend. It’s been a journey to all be in the same room and not feel as though the cloud of grief would choke us all. It’s been a journey where we’ve said more through tears and silence than actual words. It’s been a journey to get out of the car and see their faces and not cry right there on the spot because these people are who I spent my childhood with and loved my mom and loved my family and my family isn’t the same anymore and we’ve all been too sad to know what to do but cry. It’s been a journey.
But this weekend was different. The only tears from this weekend came because we were laughing so hard and again when we didn’t want to say goodbye. The only heavy sighs came not out of exhaustion from grief, but out of exhaustion from playing 10 straight basketball games with a four year-old. And the moments where I missed my mom weren’t filled with guilt and anger that she wasn’t here. They were moments when I thought about how she’s smiling at where we are in the journey.
May there be many more weekends like that one left in my journey.