>There is so much to tell you. First off, let me explain that I cannot use the key between “c” and “b.” Any words requiring that letter might get misspelled, although my “wocabulary” is growing trying to find words that don’t use it. If it gets too tedious I’ll use Ben’s computer, but for now I just want to lay it out!
May and June were whirlwind crazy times for my family and I. It seems like the past 8 weeks or so completely changed my outlook on a lot. First off, Laurel and I were lucky enough to see my Florida family (Mom, Ray, Emmy and Juju, Grandma and Papa, etc.) twice during May. We surprised my mom on Mother’s Day weekend, and then went down again three weeks later to see Emmy and Juju graduate high school.
Both trips were full of delicious food, my mother’s excellent entertaining skills, and laughing TIL WE BURST. We went out with some of my mom’s and my sisters’ friends. We ran errands in the little Hyundai and listened to music and swam in the pool. They were the kinds of trips that made me realize how much I treasure my family. I was giddy for days before and days after. I was proud of my sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins parents, grandparents… we were fun and funny and our family was throbbing with life.
May 31st, Laurel and I headed to the airport with a contingent of extended family members. After we made it through security, I got a call telling me that my mother’s brother had died. Uncle Todd was not with us that weekend, but he had died at home. He was only 38. The worst part was the six seconds between when Ray told me, my face registered it, but Laurel did not know yet. She instantly begged me, “Tell me Ashlie! Who is it?” Her eyes were huge, and all her little daily defenses were stripped away. My tough, no-nonsense little sister’s face looked 10 years old again. I was sad in a different way right then. I realized that the closeness I treasure in my family was gained at a cost of great loss at a young age. I braced for a long few weeks.
Things are blurry and intense for the next few days. There were the funeral arrangements, and organizing how to get all the sisters together so we could join our parents and grandparents in Milton. I organized things to be away from work. I gathered sisters from the airport and Amherst and we had a really blissful night where the four of us had dinner and long talks while we headed to my apartment. I think we needed that night to get through the next day. Ben was amazing. He took off work, drove us up to Vermont, and stood sentinel near anyone who needed him. Talks with my stricken Papa, sitting next to my emotional little sister Emily, who was a sweet mess, Tylenol for headaches, kissing my shoulder. I stood with my Grandmother, who dealt with her grief in a heartbreaking routine of begging Todd to wake up and desperately stroking his body. There are no “nice” wakes, but add in family drama and my uncles blindsided wife, and I was fully hollow after only a few moments.
There were lots of deep moments and words of advice, I took two things away. Be a family person. Family is what you choose it to be, and it is there in the beginning and in the end. Also, be healthy. Our bodies let us play and work and be with the families we adore, and we must must must care for them.
It took a little while to wind down from the sadness and upheaval. Being with my family, ewen under horrible circumstances, was a treat. Coming home and readjusting was hard. I am lucky for supportive coworkers, a sweet and endlessly patient husband, and the internet. When I crave family connection, I can text, Facebook message, post pictures, Tweet, or send an e-mail. Yes, I call and a travel to be there. But the internet fills the void at all other times, and I’m grateful.
This spiralled into a longer retelling than I thought. I’m glad I got it all down. There’s more to say, and I will soon, but I needed to explain the way that all felt. Treasure things you take for granted. I keep being sharply reminded that they slip away quickly.