A week ago we were celebrating Mary Hazel’s birthday at Windward Meadows – my Mom and Dad’s place in Anderson. We were all blissfully ignorant of what would soon become the new focus of our daily lives. My biggest concern that day was transporting the ladybug cake 30 miles without tipping it over. We were surrounded by loved ones, singing Happy Birthday to the slightly bashful guest of honor, and remarking how the year had certainly flown by. We enjoyed the glowing of the fireflies, watched the older kids measure how high their corn had grown since they planted it earlier this summer, and talked ourselves into eating another piece of that irresistible ladybug cake. Life was good. Simple and good. I knew it was, even then. I endeavor to live in the moment and practice never taking the quiet goodness of an ordinary day for granted. Ever since Russell’s aneurysm surgery three years ago, I’ve been keenly aware of the precious gift of time. When he had the vascular tumor removed from his spine last July, I vowed to appreciate every day we’ve had together as a family since. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m afraid of forgetting the milestones, even the simple ones, which is why I try so very hard to memorize, preserve, and, most of all, appreciate them.
Today, we were again celebrating as a family at Windward Meadows. Russell’s wish was to spend the holiday there where we have enjoyed so many other occasions (including our wedding). This time we ate homemade blueberry ice cream in the Fairy Forest under the twinkly lights, the older kids played soccer with their cool teen-age cousins in the field, and Mary Hazel slept in my arms in the midst of a very noisy and beautiful fireworks display. (My Uncle Dave even shot off a real cannon and she never flinched. I still don’t understand how babies can sleep through cannons but wake up when you flush the toilet down the hall.) Anyway, it was another satisfying get-together. Of course, it was different. We all felt it. We soaked up every little thing about MH that makes her special to us. We didn’t really talk about “it” too much, but I sensed we were all keenly aware of how precious this time together was before her surgery later this week. I wanted it to be joyful, memorable, and normal. There is going to be plenty of time to be anxious and worried in the coming days, months, and years, but today we did what we always do when we get together as a family. We enjoyed the quiet memory making that allows us to strengthen our connections to one another. Without my family, my village, I would be in a very dark place. I needed to have that celebration today to give me the peace and strength I’ll need when I wake up in the morning. Especially Thursday morning.
Thank you to the Cox family for the wonderful gift basket of treats, cupcakes, the beautiful plant and the much-adored balloon. Thank you to Vanessa S. for the perfectly-ripe peaches. Thank you to John F. for his famous banana pudding. Thank you to Chris K. for helping my dad assemble the new play fort. (Sorry about the heat exhaustion.) Thank you to the Upstate Mothers of Multiples Club for the very generous debit card to help us with expenses. You girls rock! And, as always, thank for those who are praying and sending positive energy our way. Go Team Mary Hazel!