Summer Perfection

Loveys...long time, no talk. How are you? I've been MIA. And by that, I mean I've been in the great state of Texas. We just got back from a fabulous trip to see family. Unfortunately, right before we came back, I came down with bronchitis. So my nights have been spent with me coughing so much that I start asking forgiveness for my sins, afraid the end is near. Not even kidding. (Don't worry, I ask for forgiveness on a regular basis. But when I'm scared or sick, I start begging!) I've had a very rough couple of nights. I feel better during the day, but good grief, the coughing at night is serious. Night before last, Jeff reached over and grabbed my arm and said, "Bran! Should we go to Urgent Care?" I assured him, between coughs, that I was okay. And I am. It's just lingering and I'm not feeling well.

So I'm sitting here with my hot tea, glad Jeff is home to help.

Loveys, let me just tell you that I love my family. We drove to Texas to see basically all of my family (except the Virginians, and even then, my mom joined us). It started with a couple of days with my best friend out on their farm in a teeny town in Texas. Here's what that looked like. You know that Shell and I have been BFFs since we were twelve. We can literally discuss every stage of our lives and we remember what the other person looked like. Getting together at this stage looks like our daughters having a sleepover in the next room. It looks like us sitting outside at night with glasses of wine (husbands, too) and talking till after midnight. It's so unbelievably comfortable and good. Loved. It. Thankful. I have no doubt that Michelle and I will be fifty one day, still drinking wine and talking.

Then our trip takes us to my mother's side of the family. And just like that, we're rolling with all my people in Houston. This looks like my mom speaking in Spanish with her sisters and her mother. This looks like all the cousins congregating around Tia Rosalinda's table, with Jackie sharing some tacos she picked up on the way that really good. It's kids roaming through the house and backyard, and us making room for Lily's high chair. There's something about being with my cousins that I can't get enough of. It's the bond of family and love, and it never ever goes away for me with these people. It's me sitting next to Jeana and rubbing her belly. It's holding Jennifer's adorable baby girl. It's seeing toys from my childhood in the basket on Tia's living room floor. It's staying at Victor's house and Tia Chris making delicious chorizo for us in the morning. It's being somewhere where you know you're accepted and you belong. (Tia, I love eating dinner at your house. Thanks for the wine. And thanks again, Vic. I love you. Tia Chris, that breakfast was amazing. You. Are. So. Beautiful.)

Then this party moved to my Aunt Stacey's house. We drive up to this:

You almost cry because people love you and want you. It's a good feeling, lovey. I wish everyone could feel it. We all need it so much.

And all that I hoped for happens. Stacey and Dale get to live life next to my kids for a few days. They get to see--up close and personal--all Lily's cuteness, Ash's sweetness, Linc's superhero-ness. We get to be family together. Eating meals and watching TV and having gorgeous days spent in the pool. We swing and talk and Lily throws food from her high chair. It's just the sounds and sights of family coming together. It's night swimming and talking under twinkle lights with Stacey and Dale. It's Tom Petty on the stereo, just like when I was a girl. It's Shipley donuts and kolaches. Have mercy.

Jeff went fishing with those buddies of his that are more like brothers. I got to see Heather and her adorable babies. Cory and Jennifer and I sat together and reminisced over pasta and salad. Those two have known me since I was in the second grade. They are friends I will hold on to forever.

Then Jeff leaves to go back to work (he's so cute in that picture, right? I'm in love with that Texas boy), and Mom and I pack up the kids and head even further down south. Waaaaay down to where my Mom grew up as a girl. Where you'll hear Spanish before you ever hear English. Where your grandma whips up the best tamales. You live the hacienda life for a week, and every minute is such a blessing.

It's seeing your daughter roll out a tortilla. There was enough time to breathe in that hot, humid air, and to see my Grandma get to know her great-grandchildren. There was time for the kids to climb mesquite trees in the backyard, to play all through my Grandma's house--in the nooks and crannies where I played as a child. Mom and I took the kids to Padre Island; we built memories together. There was time for Lily's first dip in the ocean, for Linc to roll in the sand, and for the kids to squeal as they jumped over waves.

All those things mean that, to me, this summer was a success. Hours and minutes and conversations and laughter with my family. Sometimes it's hard to make it happen. We live apart and life is busy. These moments remind me that making it happen is worth it, because we don't get the time back. It keeps steamrolling on.

There's something about going back to where you're from. Touching those places. It's different for everyone, of course. I understand that going back can be too painful for some people. Our stories and life experiences are our own. For me, for my story...I love where I'm from. I love my family. Going back there does something good for me. It reminds me of who I was and who I am now, and I feel this freedom to just be myself. I am home with those people.

Back to our vacation... Jeff flew back to Houston. Another few special nights with Stacey and Dale. (Thank you, Stace. I love you forever.) Then we headed back to Colorado (along with my bronchitis).

Sara just called and I was telling her all about the trip. And now I'm thinking about sitting on that porch with Buddy and Michelle. And eating breakfast at their house. I'm thinking about staying up late and watching a movie with Mom and Stacey after the kids have gone to bed. I'm remembering sitting next to Grandma Dori on an iron bench, under a huge, gorgeous Texas tree, and talking softly as she and I watch the kids run around. I think about Mom wading in the ocean while she's holding a giggling Lily. The kids eating snow cones like I did every summer of my life.

Good Lord, I'm grateful for all that. I wouldn't trade any of it.

Loveys, to have family is a beautiful thing. Since I was a child, I've watched my parents love their parents and their siblings and their children. It trickles down, I think. I'll never be a perfect parent. But I hope my love spills out over my children, and they feel that way about their family. I hope one day, when they're grown with their own children, they make the time to come see me and talk to me and touch me. I hope family is important to them because they saw that first in their mama.

I already miss all of those people. But pieces of me stay with them, and I hold all of them in my heart.

It's late and I'm coughing again, probably because now I'm emotional and crying. I'll go let Jeff comfort me and remind me that I'll see them all again and wasn't it such a good time?

Yes. And yes. And yes.

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