It was a wonderful visit, OK, some of us had to stand by for six whole flights over a span of about eleven hours, but we got there. And we got to see family. No most of them were not related by anything but the sheer power of love and time and some wild things we've gone through. But what a treat.
When my kids were born and I started to notice that we really were an actual family we went back to the little UU Fellowship that I'd been raised in. It was bigger than it was when I was a kid and had a minister and eventually other families with young kids. It was one place that was really home. Safe.
One day during this last trip I got to spend a lazy day with members of my church family. Not the one I have now, the old one. The kids are all so much older, and the moms are still my dear friends, even if we only see each other a few times a year. And I got to have a conversation with one of the nearly grown young women. We were sitting in the humid mid-west afternoon talking about college and career and her ripe future and I swear it was a big holy spirit poke; her little three-year-old face shone right through the young woman. I remembered her first day at our church. I was teaching the preschool class, and she was there for the very first time, and somehow she'd gotten a hold of an old book about Hansel and Gretel that was still on the shelf. This child was following me around demanding to know just what happened to those children with that oven. Ah! I was a twenty-something sleep deprived over worked volunteer! I had no idea how to handle this, and I'm sure I did it very poorly "ahhh, nothing really, the witch was just not a nice person..."
But clearly it didn't break her, and her family came back. And they're still there. And they're still a part of our lives. She IMs with my almost grown son, and we visit when we can, and if I'm very, very lucky, maybe she'll even come to Seattle for college, and I'll get to invite her for Thanksgiving dinner and lunches out and she'll eventually forgive me for not being straight up about that whole oven business. And I pray I'll always be able to see her little three year old face right through the grown woman.
Tomorrow I get to deliver a passel of luggage that another old church family member left with us this summer. The youngest son is coming to Seattle for school. I hadn't seen them, any of the family, in years but we're the only folks they know here, so his trunk has been stored in my garage since the apartment search visit this summer. And tomorrow after my church service I'll stop by his new apartment and leave behind the trunk and IKEA packages with his roommate so when he arrives late tomorrow he has a place to sleep. And my phone number, so if he needs anything, he can call me. Anytime.
Family. Church family. Can it be possible that my beloved work helps to create a place for this to happen for other families? Oh, it's almost too good to be true, but I think it just might be.
Good tears, good luck and oh such good family.