Last weekend I packed a month’s worth of experiences into three days. I pretty much have to anytime I go home to Illinois, but this time even more so because of the events of the weekend. My daughter’s birthday, meeting her boyfriend for the first time, my youngest grandson’s birthday, spending two days with the three grandsons (can a tornado be a good thing?), wonderful time visiting with my parents, an evening with my sister, an evening with my brother and his whole family (except one niece) – but the biggest and most emotionally charged event was Friday night.
Friday, December 9, my son’s band The Felix Culpa played their farewell show at the Metro in Chicago to 600 adoring fans. Ten plus years of dedication and talent came to an end, and watching them one last time was so bittersweet. Even more moving was watching the crowd – singing along with every song, reaching out trying to touch Marky (my son- lead singer, guitarist, writer) when he got near the edge of the stage.
The security people kept the crowd behind the barricades so no one rushed the stage, but they were single-minded in their excitement and love for this band – which was awesome to me, as it was my little boy that was their rock star. I even had to stand in line to say hi to him after the show (although unlike the others, I declined to have my picture taken with him. I had been crying too much.) Being there was something I will cherish forever.
The next day was Courtney’s birthday, and we had a wonderful day together. I’m sure we bored her poor boyfriend to death, but that’s the whole “coming to meet the family” thing. You have to sit with a bunch of people you don’t know and make conversation. We all go through it. His company had a Christmas party that night, so she was dressed up and looking beautiful, and I was so proud of both of my kids that weekend.
And of course, the grandkids. Wow. Crazy, sweet, funny, exhausting, affectionate… there aren’t enough words for them. They must have hugged and kissed me hundreds of times each. No exaggeration. They are just totally amazing kids. If you want to laugh sometime, go on twitter and look up an account called growingupindie. That’s where Marky posts all the great things they say so all the family and friends can read them. They’re worth it, even if you’re not the grandma.
Living far from the ones I love hurts more than anything in my life. It’s nothing I ever would have chosen, and sometimes I get buried in the sorrow and regret. But right now I can’t change it. And these short visits – these ones where I say “goodbye” almost as soon as I say “hello” – they are so hard too. But I can’t change that either. What I can do is take the times I have, like last weekend, and make every second count, make it as good as possible, and cherish every memory when I leave… and do my best to leave memories for others to cherish till I return. I know it’s not the best possible answer, but it’s the only one I have today.