We Are Family

Current mood: happy

I load my bags into the back seat of my car and get in. I honk once like I always do as I make my U turn. They watch from the doorway. Two dark silhouettes outlined by the bright lights coming from inside the house. They wave and then close the door against the dark chilly night. There is a lump in my throat but it isn’t caused by sadness. I round the corner as I have done so many times before and the shadow of my childhood home rushes by me on the left and disappears behind me into the darkness. I set off on my drive home and quietly reflect on just how lucky I am. Those two people waving at me from the doorway are my parents and I have never once had reason to question their love for me or mine for them. It’s always been that way and the notion that I am very fortunate to have that is not lost on me. My two sisters are pretty great too. One is a creative fashionista going to College in the North and the other my beautiful and kind big sis who has re located to the South. I grew up with my big sister and her moving out of state has not shaken our closeness one bit. I take delight in seeing the poised and responsible young woman that my little sister has become. The painfully shy little gymnast flipping around the house is all grown up. I can’t wait to see what amazing things she is going to accomplish in her life. We are so very different and yet our parents girls and therefore the same. No matter how much space and time comes between us we will always have that sisterly bond.

My parents don’t live too far and I try to make sure to go up there regularly to visit. I am the only one of their girls who still can. My mom and I spend time together as any two best friends might. There was happy hour and the movies Saturday, shopping on Sunday, and plenty of just hanging out and talking in between. I couldn't ask for a better mother or friend. I am not sure why it never occurred to me before to ask but just before I left on Sunday night I wanted my parents to tell me the story of how they met. I could tell my dad was trying to fight the smile tugging at the corners of his mouth as he re counted the story of meeting my mom at a club in Detroit. His gruff exterior melts away as they take me along with them down memory lane. I can see how much they love each other in their exchanged glances as they smile at each other and chime in with their version of the events as they unfolded over 35 years ago. I try to picture my dad as the cool "older man." The handsome fit military man my mom describes him as and my mom as a young mother barely 20 years old. I should be so lucky to have so many years of marriage and shared experiences with my husband. There are so many secrets and history that I could never begin to understand that has kept their bond strong through the ups and downs of life and marriage. I know it hasn't been easy. My dad has not always been the easiest man to love. He is his own person. With time comes acceptance and understanding. His heart has always been in the right place and we love him as he is. As they speak of their early days my memory is jogged as fragmented and vague images of my childhood dart in and out of my mind so fast that they never fully materialize. A huge gold Oldsmobile with vinyl quilted seats, long cramped family road trips all the way to Michigan. A faded red door with peeling paint from a long ago house we used to live in. Just bits and pieces here and there but enough for me to know that I had a good childhood. I wish I could remember more. They were so very young when they started this family. I am grateful for all of the years of work and love that went into making a home for my sister’s and me.

My family is imperfect as all families and people are but we love each other and want the best for each other. That is what family is all about. There are people all over the world who were beaten, neglected, forgotten or otherwise unloved by the people that you most expect to love you unconditionally and I feel lucky that I haven’t ever had to experience that kind of pain. My parents have watched me grow over the years from a girl scout in pigtails with missing front teeth into the woman I am today. I’d like to think that I have made them proud. My parents and my sisters have always been there for me and I am comforted by the certainty that no matter what, they always will be. Just as I will always be there for them.

Nights In Rodanthe

Current mood: content

I knew it was a love story but I didn’t realize it was a tear jerker. I didn’t know what the movie was about, I just knew I wanted to see it.  The wave of emotion that came over me at the end was totally unexpected.   I wasn’t in the crying mood and while it is not uncommon for me to well up during sad movies for some reason that night, even as I could see the movie taking a terribly sad turn I still felt immune. It was Valentines Day, Saturday night and I was alone at home but I was in an upbeat mood regardless because I have a Valentine who I know is thinking about me. The movie was Nights in Rodanthe. It was a story of a doctor named Paul who had made some mistakes in his life with his son and now ex wife. He is also trying to cope with emotions arising from a woman dying during a routine surgery under his care. Adrienne has two children and has been betrayed by her husband from whom she is now separated. She goes to Rodanthe to watch over her best friend’s beach side bed and breakfast and the one guest that was expected. Over the course of four spectacular days set against the backdrop of blue waves and a white sand beach her and this guest fall deeply in love. They are forever changed and invigorated by this new relationship and continue to write and look forward to a future together after she goes back home and he goes down to Ecuador to work with his son at a medical clinic. Their letters are full of hope, wonder and excitement over this new love and all of the wonderful possibilities it entails. On the night they are to be re united he does not show up. She waits nervously with the phone in her hand until she finally goes to bed in the dress she meant for him to see her in. At her doorstep the next morning she is awakened by Paul’s son toting a box of his belongings and the tragic news that the new found love of her life had died during a hurricane. He told her that he noticed the change in his father immediately. The son finally got his father back and it was due to the love that he had found with her.

Even as sad as it was I was fine, until I wasn’t. All of a sudden my eyes were welling up with tears and the next thing I knew I was in tears. After Paul’s son left she sobbed uncontrollably as she read the last letter he wrote but never received. I cried too as she read that he was so looking forward to his return and starting their life together. As she wandered around the house for the next however many days and nights broken and vacant I could only imagine what that pain must be like. The pain of prematurely broken hopes and dreams with a man who had given you more of a reason to live after he entered your life then you felt you had before. To feel such a renewed sense of purpose and awakening and then suddenly having it snatched away in an instant. They had so little time together. How can one ever get past such a horrible and unfair loss? One might feel grateful to have experienced the beauty of true love, devastated by the fact that it was so fleeting and burdened by the notion that if he was the one she may never ever experience it again.

I understood exactly what she was talking about when she explained to her teenage daughter that there is a different kind of love. A love that makes you want to be better then you were before and not less and makes you feel as if anything is possible. Her daughter listened not really understanding as she explained that it was the kind of love that she deserved, should hold out for, and not to settle for anything less. Her mother had clearly learned this the hard way. She had been in love before but it was nothing like what she experienced with Paul. It doesn’t matter that they’d only known each other for four days. She probably didn’t even realize what was missing until she found it with someone else. A teenager won’t likely grasp the concept of those words until much later. We might get lucky and get it right the first time but more then likely we won’t truly understand until after we have loved and lost and then loved again; maybe even several times. We think we know who we are and what we want but when we are that young it’s merely a theory. It isn’t until we mature and learn lessons about ourselves that can’t be taught. Lesson’s that only comes to light with time and experience mixed in with a little pain that we begin to even have a clue as to who we really are and what it means to be in love. We change so much from teenage years well into our twenties that even then it is subject to change.

I don’t think you can find this special kind of love with just anybody and I truly believe that regardless of how many times you have been in love there is only one person in the entire world meant to be that one person for you. The question is if you are ever lucky enough to meet him and even more fortunate to be able to spend the rest of your life with him. There is love and then there is LOVE. It is intangible, indescribable, and yet very powerful. It is undeniable. It fills you up from your head to your toes until you are overflowing with it. You know it and feel it in your soul if you have it but likely don’t realize it if you don’t. It truly is a different kind of love and any other kind pales in comparison. This kind of connection cannot be manufactured, planned out, or forced. It just happens and when it does it is magical. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be a walk in the park but it does mean that it’s worth fighting for no matter what life throws in your path. I have been fortunate enough to find this kind of love and it tore at the edges of my heart to imagine what I would do if I ever lost that. To loose the love of my life would turn my entire world upside down and poke gigantic ugly holes into everything I’ve ever wanted. He makes my world so much brighter that I don’t want to imagine one in which he does not exist.

As the credits rolled and signaled the end of the movie I was still crying. This subject matter really struck a chord with me because I realize how special and life changing it is to be with the one you were meant for and that even if we live to be old and gray together it is inevitable that it will end. That’s the cycle of life. I wiped my tears and made my way out of the reverie brought on by this achingly sad movie because it is just that. A movie. Powerful enough that it’s images, characters, and words have transported me to an entirely different emotional state then when I started but imaginary in that it is transported through my 25” TV.  I can hit eject, remove it from the DVD player and file it away as a really well executed movie that made me feel. That is what I expect from a really good movie and this one did not disappoint.