In June of 2019, my parents, my brothers, my sisters, and our families all got to participate in a broader family reunion for my Mom’s side of the family. There were official T-shirts and waterpark outings and catered dinners. It was really just family being family — a lot of sitting and talking in between official reunion events — so we didn’t think much of it at the time. We figured it would happen again soon enough.
But we ended up being more scattered for the holidays at the end of that year (thinking that we’d try for a big family Christmas in 2020). And even when the COVID-19 shut-down happened in the Spring of 2020, we figured it wouldn’t be that long before we’d all get to see each other again. But then weeks stretched to months. Easter stretched to Christmas. And we went 25 months from that family reunion in Texas without all getting to be together.
Until this week.
My brothers both traveled from out of state to spend the Independence Day holiday weekend in Northeast Ohio. So we made the most of the opportunity to catch up. Still a lot of sitting and talking, really. But we got to do it in a variety of different places. Our family’s back deck… my sister’s dining room… a public fireworks display… a swimming hole in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park… a back-yard cook-out… multiple rounds of ice cream…
It felt like family. And it felt like summer.
I don’t want to take any of these opportunities for granted. Who knows if we’ll have to deal with another pandemic (or another phase in the COVID-19 pandemic)? How do we know the course of my parents’ continued struggles with Parkinson’s Disease (in the case of my Dad) and Multiple Sclerosis (in the case of my Mom)? What will things be like as the younger generation continues to gain independence and move on to other pursuits? When will we all get to be in the same space again?
God knows. We don’t. So I just want to take time to remember, reflect, capture some of the images from these last few days, and thank God for the here and now.