|At the beach on a beautiful September Saturday|
Last weekend we celebrated my sister's birthday at the beach with three of her closest friends. The five of us decided last March, near my sister's actual birthday, that we were going to do this. We didn't know how at the time, but we would.
Kate and I drove down together late Thursday evening and arrived at the dark house in a soft rain. We slept in my parents' bedroom, which for me sweetly connected us to all those evenings throughout our lives when we had slept in the same bedroom together: in the house on East Park Avenue, when I would try to hide under her covers so my parents wouldn't see me, at the beach, in the twin beds, with the windows open and the sound of the ocean lulling us to sleep, in the attic bedroom on Woodland Avenue, waiting for Christmas morning... Thousands of nights have come and gone since those childhood days, of course, but as we brushed our teeth and put on pajamas in that quiet house I felt that I could touch the taut wire of our lives and feel a current running through that had never been interrupted.
The sweetness was touched by sadness, too, though. Kate put words to it first, saying, as she appeared from the bathroom after washing her face, "Is it just me or is this really hard?" Yes, it was really hard. My mom's shoes still lined the closet floor, and her books--she always had books--filled the nightstand. All of our children had been snuggled by her in this bed, on lazy weekend mornings when there was no need to rush, and we, too, had often joined her and them. I cannot remember what we talked about, but I remember laughing.
Perhaps it is fitting, then, that while out to dinner Saturday night for the official celebration of Kate's birthday, that our group, after a particularly loud outburst of laughter, was approached by the manager of the lovely restaurant where we were dining and asked if we could try to be a bit more quiet. "There have been some complaints, I'm so sorry," she said. She really did seem sorry. Later, we
|Kate and my mom at the beach years ago.|
My mom's friends had one last gathering at the beach with her last September, before she got really sick, and I know that it was filled with laughter, too, even as my mom faced the most difficult time of her life. Swimming in the ocean, paddle-boarding in the bay, and laughing this past weekend, I felt light and joyous and heavy and heartbroken all at the same time.
But oh how we laughed. We were sitting in a circle on the beach on Saturday afternoon, retracing the winding paths of our lives, when someone mentioned that she felt "a bit like Thelma and Louis." She meant like Thelma and Louis on their joyous journey, of course, not like Thelma and Louis as they drove off the cliff. And we all agreed that if we were to make that movie, we would not have Thelma and Louis die in the end. They might not have had the future all wrapped up for them in a pretty bow, but they would have kept driving, at least, heading towards a future that was entirely their own, trying to leave the heartbreak behind. Yes, in our version, we all agreed, they would have kept living.
|We were having so much fun that we forgot to take pictures. This is the only one of the group we got.|