The older I get, the more the past haunts me. Maybe this is something that happens naturally over the years. Maybe we just become more introspective with age. Lately, I see my life as a woven fabric - people weaving in and out of it and becoming part of the fabric itself. Their stories are part of my story. And in my memory, we will always be bound together.
A couple weeks ago, my brother-in-law called to invite us to our goddaughter's 16th birthday party. We had been estranged from this brother for many years. Years when we had children, bought homes and forged careers. We were happy to hear from him after so long, and were looking forward to this chance to reconnect.
As we drove back to central Wisconsin, the memories came flooding back. Times we babysat for our goddaughter. Family holidays spent together. The passing of family members. Good times. Bad times. And today was an opportunity to pick up some pieces and, hopefully, start to rebuild some bridges that had been burned.
It is hard to reconnect with people even if you share a past. For me, the entire day had the feel of being in a kids "jumper" castle. I was never quite sure of my footing as I made my way around from person to person and joined in conversations. We had to introduce our kids to their uncles and aunts and cousins which gave me a feeling of sadness for all the time that has been lost. The kids would look from person to person with interest. They were trying to figure it all out - same as the rest of us.
My brother-in-law has gone through some major life transitions. He is divorced, recently bought a new home, and has a new person in his life. He is starting over and moving forward and, fortunately for us, brought the rest of us into his new world for the day. I spoke with him briefly throughout the day. I saw a person with whom I was so familiar who had changed so much. I like his girlfriend. I am adept at "reading" people, and I could not read her. She is very personable and direct yet quiet. I imagine it must have felt awkward for her - being among all of us while we were talking about things in our common past - yet she smiled and listened to the old stories intently. I get a good feeling from her, and she appears to be very good for my brother-in-law.
It was a good day. Our goddaughter had 16 candles on her cake. She opened presents while surrounded by her family. We are all older, wiser, and have more lines in our faces now. We are the same people even though our family dynamic is always changing. We have picked up new threads and have started weaving them in with the old. Our bridges may lay in pieces, but the pieces are still there for us. We are stronger together.
It was a very good day.
"What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life - to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories." George Eliot