How ‘bittersweet’ it is…

My aunt and uncle moved back to Ohio last Tuesday, after living near Washington D.C (in Leesburg, Virginia) for the past 8 years.

And I’ve been so excited, that I’ve repeated myself for months.  Honestly, it was NEW to me every time it came out of my mouth. Didn’t realize I was repeating…


Kate is coming soon.

Kate is coming next month. Next week.

Then finally.

Today! Kate will be here today!!!

My children said it was like a child telling everybody Santa Claus is coming. And really, it HAS felt a bit like Christmas. Especially since Kate arrived. My wonderful uncle, too. It is a HUGE gift for our family.

And yet, we’re sad. Wrung out.

One of Kate’s dearest friends (A close family friend to all of us) lost her 24-year-old son last week. He passed away unexpectedly. And my aunt and uncle got word on Tuesday, while they were driving their cars back to Cleveland.

Which made last week bittersweet.

Aunt, Uncle, Cousins, Daughter and I gathered around the kitchen at the New House several nights ago. Had dinner. (And cupcakes…) But our hearts were heavy.

As a family, we’re heartbroken for those parents. We know ‘these things’ happen. But they aren’t supposed to. And certainly NOT to a family such as THAT one. Happily married a million years, dedicated, loving parents and partners. The best. And yet, they are without their beloved son. Left with only memories.

Losing a child isn’t the natural order of things. It isn’t something any parent imagines—or cares to imagine.

So I’ve spent the past week sick to my stomach one minute. Thrilled to have Aunt Kate nearby the next.

The movers arrived at the New House on Saturday morning. Five days after they packed the last box in Virginia, which is typical for a move from one state to another. They unloaded the truck, set up beds and placed furniture and boxes in the New House under my uncle and cousin’s direction.

And while they did so, Aunt Kate and I attended a funeral mass. Followed by a service at the cemetery where a young man was laid to rest. Far too soon.

We watched two parents cling to each other. When one faltered, the other supported…with words, a hand gently rubbing a back, an arm wrapped protectively around a shoulder. They comforted one another. Their bond was obvious and true. Always has been in the nearly 20 years I’ve known them.

They carried themselves with more dignity, courage and grace than most could muster under similar circumstances.

And so my family begins this week intact. Overjoyed to be living near each other again. We can gather for dinner, to watch The Olympic Games, take a walk in the woods. Simple things.

But another family is left with a gaping hole. And that type of loss isn’t something that is ‘gotten over.’ More something people learn to live with. They were (and are) a close and loving family. A family who spent time together, appreciated the moments.

The words “You never know…” roll off the tongue easily. Everybody says them. Everybody has heard them over and over.

But we don’t often stop to think of their meaning. How uncertain life is. We take this precious thing called ‘time’ for granted. Or waste ‘moments’ being angry, bitter, unhappy or dissatisfied. Instead of choosing to be happy, or grateful.

Certainly, I cannot make sense of this past weekend–though I have tried.

I know there is nothing I can do. Nothing anybody can do to. But I’ll make a special effort to support our grieving friends. To be kind and thoughtful.

And I’ll embrace having my aunt and uncle living just 10 minutes away again. I’ll continue to enjoy and appreciate my children—and other favorite people. As long as I am lucky enough to spend time with them.

Which is just what I did last night.

Because I COULD.

I gathered in my family room with some of my favorite people in the world. (The dogs, too.) And we watched The Olympic Games. I got teased. Some laughed until they cried…

And I felt very, very lucky.