The clouds have been gathering all day. My eyes hurt; my head hurts; my belly aches. But this day is finally over and maybe now I can write what I have been composing and tossing aside all afternoon.
Perhaps you remember this post from last Monday. And the thrill of going to LakeHouse to see and visit this branch of family again. It had been 8 years, shortly after ZBoy was born since I'd been to LakeHouse and seen this family... and before that? I don't really remember. But I remember as a child, this family branch dropping in and staying a day or two on their way to somewhere else.
Note: for some semblance of privacy, I won't be using real names... I will use blognames where applicable, but will make up others as needed.
We weren't close in the usual way, but recently had begun to reconnect via blogworld. Other than my brother Prime, no one else in my immediate family blogs. But this part of the family does - ALL but one or two of them. My Smile, Cordelia Naismith, Cafengocmy, Daa of Night, Phre3d, DotinFL... The youngest son blogged sporadically-and hard to get to know. It turns out that he works all the time. So when the invitation came to visit LakeHouse on the 4th of July and see almost all the family, I was delighted. Darling Man agreed to go (he got off work for this) and we set out on the 2 hour drive to LakeHouse at noon.
When we arrived (at the same time as my UncleT) everyone else was already there. I met Cordelia for the very first time in person almost as soon as I got out of the car (she was a tiny baby the last time I actually laid eyes on her). She was standing at the front door waving us in. The LakeHouse is basically one big room with a couple of bedrooms stuck on one side and a bathroom stuck onto the other and a largish screened porch across the back, wide enough to hold a picnic table and four or five chairs facing the lake. Actually, I suppose I should call it the FRONT of the house, as I was told it was "lake-front" property and that the road was at the BACK of the house. Cousin F(Phre3d) and Cousin S were on hand to greet us - a shy nod and big smile from Phre3d and a swooping hug from Cousin S. UncleT made a beeline for DotinFL, so it took a minute to get in there for a hug. Scattered around the big room was My Smile's husband Mac and son Link playing video games, Melodi and her daughter Emily, who at nearly two was the darling of the family. Everyone else was on the porch or in the lake.
Cafengocmy and Cordelia had just returned from a month-long trip to Vietnam, and there were stories to be told. Talk turned to many topics, including my grandfather's ability to whistle with his mouth closed. He got Cordelia in trouble at the dinner table a few times doing that... then she discovered she could do it too! Actually, a few people in that branch of family could do it.
I wonder if ZBoy would be able to do that???
K and MySmile came up from the lake and went to get groceries and pick up the barbecue for lunch. The kids came up dripping and settled right in. The gabfest continued on the porch.
When lunch arrived, we all gathered around the pingpong table, draped with tableclothes. It works very well when there are so many people to feed. There was chicken and ribs, baked beans, coleslaw, bread, fruit, and a virtually ignored container of green beans. For dessert, Carla had baked peanutbutter and chocolate bars, which were wonderful; someone else had contributed brownies; DotinFL's pineapple upside down cake was a hit with ZBoy.
Sated by this glorious meal, we stayed sitting around the table talking for a while.
Can you tell those two are related?
I am amazed at how alike Cousin S and my brother Jerry are! Take away the glasses and they look alike. They have very similar personalities. And they hardly ever see each other. It must be a family thing.
The picnic table turned into a card table... but I have no idea what they were playing. Just that it involved cards and spoons.
And of course, there was more porch sitting, chatting and watching the lake lying in its bed. We'd had a small rainshower and my camera fogged up a little. This is the only picture I have of MySmile and Mac and K. Phre3d joined them in admiring the view.
It was a truly wonderful day, that ended too soon. Before I got to talk to everyone I wanted to talk to. But Darling Man had to work the next morning early, and we needed to hit the road so we could hit the hay when we got back. We said our goodbyes with hugs and promises to keep in touch and to do it again soon. Then Darling Man, Zboy and I got back in the car and drove home.
It was a very fine day, all in all. ZBoy was disappointed that we couldn't stay for the fireworks. He went to bed but got scared of the noises that people were making with their fireworks. He got in bed with Darling Man and I collapsed into Z's bed. A little while later, lightning woke me up. I got up to investigate and discovered that the neighbors across the street were having their own little fireworks display. Nothing big - everything stayed on the ground. I went and got ZBoy and we watched from his bedroom window.
Thursday, Friday, the weekend came and went. Nothing spectacular or special about them in particular. Just being home, being with my son, my husband, visiting with my cousin and seeing a movie together.
Monday, I went to work in the afternoon. I'm glad I was there, because my email doesn't send messages out at home. Phre3d sent me an email asking if my address was still current. It was labeled URGENT. That was odd, I thought, but a small seed of darkness landed in my thoughts. I replied that yes, it was the same. Then I got an email asking me to call him. Even odder, and a small cloud of dread built out of that seed. I tried to call, but the line was busy. Then another message. Very bad news in PC. My stomach was in knots now. I knew someone was badly hurt at the very least. It was worse.
My phone rang and it was Phre3d. His voice quiet and a little shaky, he told me. MySmile and Mac had drowned. It was some kind of accident and he didn't know details but would I please call my mother and UncleT and let them know? Sure, I replied. I think I may have said other things, but I don't remember. Then I hung the phone up and cried. Really cried.
I didn't know MySmile well. We'd exchanged notes on our blogs a few times. But I remembered her as a child. So small, with freckles everywhere and the sunniest smile I'd ever seen on a person before or since. Then seeing her again as a grown woman, a wife, a mom. I was charmed all over again by her freckles, her smile, her graciousness. I didn't see her much on the 4th since she was running around doing errands, but there was a brief moment after lunch. I walked out onto the porch. She and Mac were holding hands and just looking out at the lake. I sat down to the side and took that foggy picture above. There wasn't much talking. Just the after dinner peace and quiet being enjoyed. It was nice.
But now, there's an empty place in the world. A possible friendship taken before it started. A beloved daughter and sister, adored wife, loving mother, sunny smile gone. We are all in shock. It shouldn't have happened. I want to call, but I don't know what to say. So I messaged the family through our blogs. Daa responded first... "I can't think". No one can.
I won't go into details. Suffice to say, a great sadness has fallen over this family. Losing two precious people is a serious blow. It will never be the same.
I know some of my family is going to read this. You know the people I've written about. And you know what an incredible loss this is. I hold you all close in my heart and love you. One day, the sun will shine again, but for now and for a while - the thunderstorms are here.