Living provinces away from your immediate family gives you these interesting glimpses into their lives. You miss a lot of the daily grind. You can’t just grab a coffee on the fly with the people you love. Instead, you grasp your technology close to your heart and call and FaceTime them maybe a little too often. You yearn for those days where the kilometres don’t sit between you; the old memories become rose-tinted.
Somedays, your heart needs to reach out to them to hug them when those bumps in the life road occur. You cry a little on the inside when you can’t help them, you do the best where you are with what you’ve got. You listen a lot. You bleed a little. You plan your visits months, and sometimes years, in advance.
You take a step backwards when these giant life changes occur. You meet new nieces, and dearly loved friends’ babies months later. You show up just in time for incredible life events – weddings, funerals, engagements. You see it all go on social media – the highlight reels, but you miss the agonizing decisions and what-ifs in the middle.
The weeks leading up to these important events, I pack and repack all the items I need for my little family. It isn’t an easy feat. I grab my courage by the balls, bring my two kids on the plane solo and make it happen. I show up each time, rumpled, exhausted and at the last straw of my patience. Each time, I am amazingly and richly rewarded, humbled even.
Since my last visit, my family changed a lot. Not only did my kids grow up incredibly, my brother became a dad, and I watched with tears in my eyes as my sister married her best friend. And I watched a community. The community who stands around us – our extended families, our friends are amazing.
When the tornado crashed the beach wedding plans, they stepped in to help. I watched people sling benches, ice, dishes and do whatever they could to help. I saw my sister who usually ugly cries buckets of happy tears at every wedding she steps into, perfectly composed and ready to take the next step. We all did our part – I said a blessing, my kids were little flower gals and sign holders down the aisle, my dad gave a speech, my mom helped set up tables, my brothers did so much decorating, arranging and fluffing up.
My sister has always been a gracious hostess. Last year, I stayed at her house for a night. John, her husband, treated me to a gourmet dinner which they made in unison and wouldn’t allow me to help with. They plied me with wine and delightful conversation, and I remember walking away thinking about what a great team they made. The team wasn’t broken by the tornado, although the plan did change.
As with all our visits, we are short on time to do all the things we want to do, all the people to catch up with and experiences that can only be had in Ontario (hello Pine River cheese curds). Hanging out at the beach is always high on my list to do, because of the sense of peace that settles over me every time I am there. So, even more graciously, my sister invited my family back the next weekend to hang out with her, her new husband, my brother Neil, and his girlfriend at the lake.
The weekend gave us the blue skies and clear lake days that I remember from my childhood.
The weekend gave me those rich family moments that I dream about being in another province. I filled up my cup, I filled up my heart with the people who are so dear. I’m blessed to be able to watch my siblings interact so naturally with my kids, and see their cravings for these moments too.
So dear friends and family, thanks for helping us – from those that helped us find something to wear (my kids & me), thanks for swimming with us in the lake, thanks for helping raise up an amazing couple who we love too. Thank you for being flexible, for showing up – near and far. Your small words, kindnesses and hugs – or coming back to simply take a snapshot of a DIY chalkboard door – make a world of difference, more than you know.
That peace and contentment settled in, and I held it tight as we did the reverse back to Alberta. See you again soon, community, keep doing what you do for this new couple. I know you will. xoxo
a passionate recreation coordinator by day, crazy farm mama of two by night. i live outdoors: growing my own food, camping and hiking with my border collie with two active kids in tow. when I’m not writing, I’m experimenting with recipes, and crafts – or anything else that might keep the monkeys entertained.