Monday, September 20, 2010

Bittersweet Summer

Summer 2010 won't be over for a few days.  Officially, Fall 2010 begins on September 22.  Ever since Labor Day, my family and I have been expressing to each other how happy we will be to put this past summer behind us.  Certainly, our individual lives and the collective life of our family was changed in ways we never could have imagined on Memorial Day Weekend when my fourth child took her life at the age of 34.

As a family, we love to be together.  Each personality of each of my five children is unique.  Taught never to be afraid of individualism, it seems that my children have always majored in expressing that individualism in unique ways.  A well defined sense of self has always been articulated in intelligent, funny and sometimes overpowering ways whenever the family is together.  Let's put it this way, Thanksgivings are not boring at my house if everyone is home.  Political and religious views many times are on opposite ends of the spectrum, and my kids love a good argument.  I've often pitied the poor soul that had enough courage to marry into this family because it can't be easy to run with this tribe if one is faint of heart.

None of my children or grandchildren live near me.  The closest family lives about 120 miles from me.  We don't get together often enough.  In fact, in the past ten years, it takes a pretty major event to get everyone home at the same time.

When Julie passed away, the first thing on everyone's mind was getting the youngest member of the family home.  Jonathan and his wife and young son were all half way around the world away in Bangladesh.  It would be three long days before they were able to arrive in the Boulder, Colorado after making the long, sad journey home.  Our hearts were full of grief and happiness at the same time when we were finally able to all gather together safely at the home of my third child.  Her home officially became the headquarters for all events that followed and the hotel that housed the surviving siblings, their spouses and all seven of the grandchildren.
Looking Over the Back Fence
(I think there was a blind kitten who lived there)

Breakfast on The Back Deck

My grandchildren give me great hope for the future and fill my heart with gratitude and pride.  I hope that they will remember the time that they had together as a time of healing as well as a time of sorrow.

I know that for me, because I was surrounded by the strength of my children and the youth and beauty of my grandchildren, I will look back on the Summer of 2010 not just with grief and sorrow, but with a sense of bittersweet memories of time we all spent together loving each other, crying together, and trying to make sense of the tragic event which had just occurred to us and to our loved one who left us way too young and way too early.
My Beautiful Granddaughters
My Handsome Grandsons

This photograph has become a very special one to me as it captures the grandchildren gathered together playing a board game next to a table that is coved with the bright, colorful daisies that were the family flowers for Julie's services.  Life does go on for those who remain.  Families come together and celebrate just being together even in wake of unspeakable loss.