We’re not as young as we once were. Rather, each of us isn’t. It’s still the same stars in the constellation, only now we are the big and bright ones, filled with fire and burning bright in the midst of our vibrant though fading glory while our own kids are now the twinklers we once were, streaking through the days unaware of the forces that bind them feeling every days possibilities, every moments magic all the way to it’s core. The anchor stars that once were with us have been replaced by stars we’ll never see in any kind of context as they’ve been the ones to light our path forever and will do so long after they have faded.
The older I get the more I realize how lucky I am to be from this family. This big family. This hysterically funny and smart and loving and biting family of huggers and competitors. This family of artists and dreamers and doers and thinkers.
It’s not hard to see how lucky we are. Everyone who ever finds their way into our family finds out immediately how lucky we are. We’re told this pretty regularly. One of us, one of a more recent vintage, said it again this weekend. In that old familiar way I’ve come to love. She looked across the table we middle stars were arranged around, in the waning hours of the long night we simply were refusing to leave behind, all of us giddy with laughter and debate and reminiscence and debate and one upsmanship, and she said, ‘You guys are so lucky to be from your family.’
We know we are. We didn’t all always know that, but we know it.
‘I know.’ I said.
‘No. Seriously. You really are lucky.’ She restated.
I looked her in the eye, trying to measure my tone so she knew I was being real. ‘I really know.’
People don’t believe us. We don’t wear it on our sleeves. I think it’s because we were never made to think we were any different than anyone else. I mean, we were all unique, but no more or no less, in general. We struggled like everyone. We took our time becoming happy and we all have overcome challenges and we all will face more. We have differing views and can be made furious by one another. We all make each other laugh.
But there are some weekends, some parties that leave you buzzing. This was one of them.
We were there for my mothers _0th Birthday (I’m no dummy. She was an age divisible by ten, that’s all you’re getting.) It was a surprise party. She knew some of us would be there, she had no idea how many. She entered with joy and a face that registered surprise, then shock, then she screeched so loud as she scanned the room and all the faces that we worried the cops might have been called.
The weather was perfect. Not too hot in mid July, a rarity and an appreciated one as heat truly makes her unable to be comfortable. But this day she could sit outside and visit with family of all kinds. Some from her earliest days, some from her marriage and life as a mom and grandma and some from the unbreakable bonds of friendship. Four longtime friends, actually. And some were missing. I don’t know how she does that. I have a best friend. I haven’t seen him in years. Meanwhile here she is at an age I would never reveal, but suffice it to say, older than me, with 4 amazingly close friends ready to come out for her birthday without hesitation, here to celebrate her. My sister got a photographer to come out and it was totally worth it. My mom gathered her friends, all Franciscan sisters and as they posed one made a comment that I won’t repeat here, but was a tad bawdy. And hysterical.
Food was plentiful. Kids were active. Chairs were sat in for hours in the front lawn under full and shading trees while the adults visited and caught up. It was a delight. Before the time even began to be asked after 5, 6, 7 hours passed. The sun faded and those that remained sat gossiping on the front porch. Laughing and catching up on the goings on throughout our familial Galaxy. Slowly this group faded as plans were made for those of us who could continue later. After the kids were in bed.
Later we got slightly dressed down, then bundled back up, drinking beers, telling stories, having the time of our lives under the stars of the big sky that hangs over the plains in the middle of America. We were an eclectic and diverse bunch. There was good reason to look at us and think us lucky. We are. As lucky as anyone ever was, actually.