Plans had been drawn: My niece had a quinceañera (it had been in the works for a couple of years, actually) and my parents and siblings were all supposed to meet in Utah last week. However, a few days before the party and family reunion my mom was diagnosed with thyroid cancer that was threatening to block her airway and she had to have surgery right away to fix that. Lots of last minute plans had to be altered. We all went into a state of panic and trying to decide what to do and how to react, cancel the party? travel to my parent's home? continue on? Mom's desire was that we kept the original plans and supported my sister and her daughter as much as we could and three of my sisters remained with mom and dad back in Texas.
We had to have hard conversations the best way we could. I was anticipating having mom in person to talk about a lot of 'issues' but ended up doing it by phone the weekend before her surgery. We cried on the phone, we mended a lot of fences while we were still trying to understand what was going on. We brought up a lot of skeletons that once we talked about them, were merely shadows once we understood where each other were coming from---it is an irony how an illness or something tragic like this makes people stare at the face of reality and forces you to say things that normally we don't have the guts to do but I hope that we can move forward from now on with mended relationships and better dispositions.
My brother got here from Seattle with his family and lots hugs were shared all around and caught up from the years of absence, I mean we have Facebook, telephones and modern technology to help with the distance, but nothing beats good old face time. Mom went into surgery. The outcome was better than anticipated and now she is gearing up for treatment for the next few months. My sister arrived from TX and more hugs and more catch up time--all in between even sleep seems of little importance, every minute was/is precious.
The party went on, it was a smashing success and my niece was happy (as were all her friends and guests). Everyone worked so freaking hard, my two sisters who live in Provo being at the top of the list; my brother in law was able to broadcast the party to the family on the web, everyone took extra assignments--even Jeff was out there setting and cleaning tables--whatever needed to be done--we laughed, we danced, we cried--that's what family does, work together, hold together, pull together for each other and with each other. We had more serious conversations--some of which were too uncomfortable for many of us, yet the outpouring of love was greater than anything else which I believe was the central theme here--no judgement, no preaching but instead tremendous show of respect and love all around. Maybe it is what age has done to us, we realize that love is what matters most.
Sadly it was time to go back home for my brother, sister and their families, but lots of good things happened in between. We ate, we played, we hung out together and we held each other--literally. My kids got to spend time with some of my family, I got to spend time with them and Jeff got to meet more members of the family and see where some of my craziness comes from...I've been extremely blessed in the last few days. I got to spend some 1-1 time with my brother and my sister. Their impressions to me: "I'm glad you're happy, Jeff is amazing" -- yeah I know that! :-) he went so out of his way to make them all feel welcome and loved, just like his family has done to me and I'll be forever grateful for it.
I felt loved the way really I am, the way I wanted to show (or those I was able to show anyway); of course everyone wants to be accepted for who they are and in the middle of coming out and living a whole new life there's always all these worries of what may be real and what may be assumed as we talk on the phone and being face to face it is much easier to read and interpret people's reactions and body language and I'm glad to report nothing but positive outcomes not just from my siblings but also their families. Bliss...I don't know how else to describe the last week or so. I was a whirlwind of activity that came and went so fast yet so much happened in between so now it is time to sit back and contemplate on all that has happened as life sort of gets back to our normal routines, but I suspect none of us will be the same again...
That's what family time did to me last week.