Celebrating milestones, spending time with family, and living again
A few months ago, my kid sister decided she wanted to come up for a visit during her summer break. Since she teaches, this is the perfect time to travel, enjoy time away from home, and explore a new environment. Why not venture to North Carolina to make that happen?! I was all for it and scrambled to put in my time on our department’s PTO calendar well in advance so I would have this time with her to celebrate her 23rd birthday the way she intended to have it celebrated.
My dad and stepmom took the five-hour drive up from Georgia along with her. Seeing all three of them at once, and in my place for the first meeting in over 3 years, had been a blessing. I have not been traveling nor have I been venturing too far away from home. (Thanks, global pandemic, you really know how to show a woman a good time.)
Every time I feel as though I should take a road trip at least 3–5 hours away, my body and mind turn against me. I feel physically sick and afraid. There is a fear that has strapped itself to my skin, settled in my bones, and hasn’t released me yet. But slowly, surely, I am wiggling myself free from it.
Having the kid here for the weekend has lifted my spirits. Friday night, we watched Sing 2 on Netflix since she had not seen it. I love a good animated film. I love it even more if it makes me laugh!
There’s a specific scene when Meena is trying to run back into the lobby with her ice cream cone because she has gotten incredibly nervous and flushed from being around her crush. She attempts to push a pull door and lands hard into it — splattering ice cream everywhere.
I cannot tell you the number of times I have watched this and laughed until my throat became sore — tears sputtering from my eyes. What gets me, even more, is Alphonso’s reaction to Meena’s misstep: “Whoooaaa! Are you okay?” If you haven’t treated yourself to this movie, do so.
Celebrating a milestone simplistically but in style
23 is a fun age. If you were to ask me if I remember turning 23, nearly twenty years ago, I’d confess — I do not. I remember it was the year I graduated college and I believe much of the month before that was spent preparing myself for what was to come after I walked across that stage.
My sister did not ask for much. She didn’t want to go anywhere major, didn’t want to do anything over-the-top. Her requests: take pictures in the park, have a birthday cake, a hearty lunch, and spend time with us. Not much, right? Nope.
We have done these things, and there is still more to come. In order for me to have this time to spend with her, I took Friday off from work. I’ve also taken this coming Monday off, as I know I will need to rest and recuperate before I “go hard in the paint” again at work. Priorities, people. Priorities.
Why a milestone, you may ask? I had friends who did not make it to this age. They’d died in their early 20s, late teens, or just as we entered high school. So seeing my kid sister, all smiles, living her life to the fullest, and being able to freely, makes me miss those friends more. As I stated several entries back, grief comes in waves.
I feel immense joy witnessing her happiness. I am overwhelmed with elation, however; I think about the loved ones I have lost — those who cannot share these moments with me any longer — those who … had not been given extra time. It hits me like a ton of bricks and I am a puddle of tears once again.
Although my sister is celebrating a new year simplistically, she did so in style. As we readied ourselves this morning to meet up with my dad and stepmom, the kid wrapped herself in a stunning yellow dress and donned her feet in wedged heels.
I am not dainty by any means. I find comfort in themed t-shirts, sweatpants or jeans, and sneakers. During the winter, themed hoodies or long-sleeved shirts, sweatpants or jeans, and sneakers. The last time I wore heels? Senior prom, maybe?
I admire those who choose to rock them and can make heads turn while doing so. I am proud of my kid sister for having her own sense of style and shining so brightly as she shows it off.
Preparing for the busy weekend and much-needed family time
The workweek had been a short one. I only worked Tuesday through Thursday and Thursday ended up being a shorter day than normal because of system and connectivity issues.
Throughout the week, I was preparing myself for this weekend — getting things in order. I also rested more than usual because I knew I would be busy. Jernee (my dog) is perplexed because we have had back-to-back visitors and not much lazing about.
I appreciate spending time with my family — being able to do so with a few people here and there, and in small doses, has been a gift. I needed this more than I can put into words.
Singing Happy Birthday to someone I love and someone whose diapers I changed sends a slight shiver up my spine. I have watched this person grow from all stages of life and she is still growing. There is a sense of pride welling up within me, awaiting the proper moment to burst out.
I think I’ll hold on to it a little longer.
How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? — Satchel Paige
Welcome to The Grieving Room. I am here. You are here. We are not alone in this.
See you next Saturday.
©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt Originally published in The Grieving Room newsletter via LinkedIn.