Is there life after Tallahassee? There was a time when I surely didn’t think so. Bawled my brains out all the way to Tampa, back in 1995. I probably shaved two years off my life that day, just crying. Since then, I’ve grown fond of Central Florida, but Tallahassee will always have my deepest affections. There is no place like it.
I left on Thursday for my uncle’s funeral. I wish the trip had not been the result of this occasion. We did all make the best of it, I think, and I spent the weekend mulling. It’s funny how families work. We only get together for weddings or funerals –lately this has been only funerals. My grandmother, who died in 1991, would not approve of this and I am committed to changing the pattern. But the interesting thing is that though we rarely see each other, the bond is solid and comfortable. The strands created in childhood, over fried chicken and banana pudding, are still visible today– 30 years later. It feels like a trail of bread crumbs we began dropping then as kids. Now, with so much time gone by, so many important people already gone, we can still follow the crumbs. And it leads us back to the memories we share. To laughter. To each other. It’s nice.
But I know families where this is not the case and I started thinking about that within the context of my uncle’s actual funeral service. And I realized that the reason those strands are still tangible is that Jesus is part of our family. He was there at the funeral and He has always been there. Without that, I don’t think any of us would bother. Besides our common childhood experiences, this is the one thing we still share. Again…nice.
Besides being with my mom and dad, first cousins, second cousins, first cousins once removed, second cousins once removed with no hair on their legs, third cousins soon to be removed, etc….I thoroughly enjoyed sharing a too-small hotel room with my three youngest children. They think staying in a hotel is the next best thing to walking straight in the front doors of heaven. Here are a few images that reflect this:
Ah, what fun, right? I remember loving me some hotel time too, many MANY years ago. And to be completely honest, I still love it. There is something very cozy about having so many loved ones right there together under one roof. It’s a tent, without the ground, and dew, and dirt, and with hot showers. And with a really bad WiFi connection that you finally manage once you figure out what in the world DNS settings are and how to automatically detect them. And you can look over in the night and see the porcelain outline of a fat baby face or hear a soft snoring in the quiet of the room. And there’s a certain joy that comes from a free continental breakfast of pre-wrapped bagels and orange slices and waffles. Those are some pros.
The cons are that sometimes you discover your bed partner likes to sleep across the bed, where pillows typically go and you end up confined into a 4 inch strip of real estate where not even a yard stick could get comfortable. And sometimes that same bed partner falls out of bed because of her contortionist tactics. And sometimes that very same (still) bed partner slithers out of bed in the middle of the night and turns on every lamp in the room and throws the entire posse into a disturbed and wakeful state.
But I will take the 4 inches of double bed, incidents with lamps and floors, and lots and lots of “we’ve been in this car for like a million hours” because it means we are all together, sharing one space and one purpose, creating moments and memories that I hope they’ll share together when my funeral rolls around. But that’s another post entirely. I’ve got some really great ideas…