When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses. ~Joyce Brothers
I found this one, too, that I really like:
You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them. ~Desmond Tutu
God has gifted me with an amazing family. How else can you explain ongoing traditions, like Christmas cookie- baking parties every December....with chocolate crinkles, Grandma Bernie's sugar cookies and frosting, chili and cinnamon rolls, mimosas, and most of all, great company? Or summer BBQs....that started before I can remember, way back when Eric and I were the youngest, and watching Geoff, Chris, Stefani....all of Uncle Joel's kids...Aunt Beth's kids...playing badminton, or volleyball in the backyard? More recently, a time when Uncle Joel and Aunt Laura have made the drive from Gillette, WY to Spokane to spend some time catching up. Thanksgiving. Christmas Eve traditions, which have changed a little from what they used to be---but haven't lost the meaning or importance of family getting together and enjoying the company, some cold cut sandwiches, and most importantly...sugar cookies?
Last night, Aunt Penny and Uncle Bill hosted a going-away BBQ for William and I...even nicer, since neither one of us can eat right now, but EVERYONE was able to be there. As usual, I came armed with my camera and took plenty of photos...enough to drain the battery (but that's not surprising, as the camera is dying a slow death...and will be replaced very shortly!).
I know how much I'm going to miss being only a short drive from my aunt's house. Or being able to drive up the hill to watch a soccer game, or a karate graduation. But the truth is...I think I could have done a better job at all of it. And my hope is that my relationships with my family will be strengthened as a result of me being away. I want to get to know my cousins better....and what they have going on in their lives. I want to hear about Miranda's prom, and see how Adam excels at athletics. I want to see more drawings and stories that Matthew creates, hear about how school is going for Andrew,and hear about Molly talking up a storm...I can't wait to hear from Abby about her ballroom dancing, and softball, and how running is going. I'm excited to see more pictures of the handsome young men that Max and Ben are becoming.
I think one of the most difficult things for me right now is that just when I've really started to get to know Madison and Riley better....I'm packing up and moving. Madison is one of the most beautiful, caring, thoughtful....just simply amazing individuals I know. Not to mention the fact that she owned William on the dance floor at our wedding reception....I have no doubt that Madison is going to grow up to become whatever it is she wants to be. And Riley....where to begin? Our connection is a little different, as I started taking care of Riley when he was about 7 weeks old. Taking care of Riley was the first time I discovered the capacity of love for another human being. I'm not a parent yet, so I don't "technically" know what the Mama Bear instinct is...but being his nanny gave me an idea of how much love I can have in my heart for someone. Plus, we had a lot of dance parties (which showed on April 10) and trips to library story-time...I hope that he always knows how much I love him, and if I haven't done a good enough job of showing the kids what they mean to me, I will spend the rest of my life trying. Strangely enough....one of the first things I thought about when we decided to move is....but what about the kids?
I'm tearful, now, as I finish writing this entry. I'm sitting in a dining room full of chaos, in a house where I realized, for the first time, that I could do anything I set my mind to....including becoming a homeowner, surviving losing a job, discovering the love of my life was there all along, and that I could be....amazing.
To my friends and family who are reading this....I love each and every one of you for whatever support you've provided me over the years and I can't wait to see what this next chapter of my life brings us.