Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Time to be together …

052210 Kaweah River below bridge

The last couple of months have been very busy, some event or gathering every weekend, getting together with family and friends, multiple events on the same day – just an unusual flurry of activity. (Boy, my home really needs a good cleaning – lol!)

A dear friend married her love at a beautiful garden ceremony at a luxurious hotel in Los Angeles. The garden was beautifully set in a Chinese theme with pink and white paper lanterns overhead; the food was delicious. Most of all, I was thrilled to see my friend looking so radiantly happy with her new husband! I caught up with an old friend there, as we all—friends and (very large) family—celebrated the happy couple.

Another friend’s daughter celebrated her First Communion, a beautiful milestone in her religious education; everyone—adults and children—got together in the family’s home afterward to celebrate with a big spread. I had a great time!  Recently, I was also lucky enough to attend the dance recital of another friend’s daughter; I loved it. She danced beautifully, was very comfortable on stage performing, and I really enjoyed all the other dance numbers, too. The littlest ones are always so cute!

We spent a weekend in Three Rivers, California (near Sequoia National Park) to share in my sister-in-law’s (my ex-husband’s sister) 25th wedding anniversary. They renewed their vows on a wooden bridge over the Kaweah River.  The husband (they’re both in theater) sang to his wife during the ceremony; oh, it made me cry, hearing the love in his song! A reception followed, with slideshow, music, flowers, food. The family all stayed to clean up, washing pans and utensils in the big church kitchen, packing the extra food, everyone horsing around and laughing. We all went back to my sister-in-law’s home, which sits with the river at their back door, talking and laughing late into the night. The next day, my daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters and I went to Sequoia National Park to visit the giant redwoods. Were we surprised when we got up there and it was snowing! Fun trip!

A friend drove out from Arizona with her daughter and mother for a short visit, so myself and 4 other friends drove out to Playa del Rey to have dinner with them. Non-stop gabbing – lol! We had a great time!

Several of my old high school chums have met again on Facebook, friends I haven’t seen since high school back in … some time ago. One friend came out from North Carolina to visit so we planned a beach party mini-reunion so we could all get together in person. Omigosh! It was like we were all teens still in high school, teasing, telling stories, laughing till my stomach hurt! I had a perma-smile on my face from all the happiness; at one point I looked at my old friends, gathered talking and I looked at the sky, the beach … felt the warm sun and the breeze … and my heart filled with utter joy and contentment.

Today, my cousin David was buried. David, bigger than life, a man who lived every minute of his life with absolute gusto and enthusiasm. To him, a big family gathering was the norm, whether it be at the house or on a camping trip or a vacation or just being with family. When David was at the party, you knew you were going to be laughing. My dad would say he was “full of the devil.” What a great storyteller he was, too, adding just a little embellishment to make the story even better. He reminded me of Dean Martin when he smiled, his eyes disappearing into starry twinkles at the corners, his dimples dotting his happy smile. He adored his beautiful wife, Linda; it was written all over his face when he looked at her. David was so full of life, that I think it makes his absence from this world even more apparent. He was a semi-truck driver and he was killed last Thursday in a tragic multi-vehicle accident. His sudden and unexpected loss has stunned the family.

We all got together on Saturday, seeing family that I hadn’t seen in years, meeting family that I hadn’t yet met, being with other family that I see more often, too. It’s always good to gather together with family, even under these circumstances. Normally, everyone has their lives, their day-to-day family and friends, but everything stops when something like this happens. We cancel our plans, we make calls, we get together and cry and hold one another, and we also share stories and laugh, because that’s what families do. The rosary and vigil was last night and it was wonderful to hear the tributes, everyone nodding in recognition as people remembered my cousin, his generosity, wonderful spirit and great stories.

This is all part of the journey, being with people, sharing happy times, comforting one another in loss. I’m sometimes tempted not to accept invitations to events or gatherings, to put off getting together for another time, being too busy, having too much to do to make time for others. I’m quite content with my own company, but I also love to be with those I care about. I have to remember that we’re all temporary. I have to say Yes more often, Yes to those good times, Yes to laughter and stories … and I’ll take time to experience and enjoy that wonderful sense of deep peace and contentment that comes from being with good people, people I love. I am so grateful for their footprints on my own life journey.


052310 scenic view fog