Monday, June 11, 2012

A Bittersweet Return to Ohio

My mind is in a fog due to the highs and lows of this past week and I've been all over the place in my thoughts that I haven't slept a full night since returning home Friday night. I am clear-headed enough to thank everyone who shared their sympathy and prayers for my family as we celebrated my Grandma Emma's life in Columbus, Ohio. The comments here on the blog were a wonderful reminder while I was traveling what a great support my blogging community is. Thank you for that!

We had just returned from my 10 year Wellesley College reunion and un/re-packed Monday night, hopped in a rental car Wednesday and made the 9 hour drive to Columbus. My sister Ariane joined us and was able to keep Nia entertained in the back while Uka focused on the road - the perfect driving weather helped compared to the rainy cold we had in New England last weekend. 

Lil Love Bird entertained herself while I packed
Nia had given us a preview a few days before of what to expect on a long car trip ...


But decided to provide mostly fun moments . . .

Enjoying her first Eat'n Park smiley cookie!

But overshadowing the journey was the reason why we were making it. 

My last visit with my Grandma Emma - August 2011
My grandmother Emma Belle Manley was honored in such a tremendous way at her homegoing service on Thursday. My mother worked hard to put together a touching photo collage video that captured the true essence of her mother. My Cousin Valerie performed a beautiful dance tribute, my Uncle James played the piano as movingly as I can ever remember and my mother's church friend Mrs. McKee shared her thoughts and sang in such a way that inspired me to the core. I was also especially touched that Julie, my best friend since fifth grade, came to the wake. I had shared the details of the day with her but hadn't expected her to come - I did it as a courtesy since I would be in town and I sometimes find out after the fact when friends have come to NYC and it really annoys me when they don't at least mention they're passing through even if they can't see me. I felt so loved to know she was coming and it meant so much for her to be there at the wake.

Grandma Emma had a beautiful day to be celebrated, and I'm especially thankful to Mr. Love Bird for being there with me as he has been traveling a lot the past 6 weeks for commitments on my side of the family. He has been very understanding. 

I know it's cliche when distant family laments they only get to see each other during weddings and funerals, but it is often so true. I saw so many family members that I hadn't seen in years and to see the way Nia enjoyed playing with her cousins made me wish she had little cousins here in NYC the way Mr. Love Bird and I had growing up. Yes, we had family telling us she needs a playmate, but no, we are still nowhere ready for that to happen yet!

I am a Midwestern girl at heart and being in my Aunt Thelma's huge backyard brought back childhood memories of leisurely Sunday dinners filled with laughter and family. I would love for Nia to experience that. For now we have a makeshift family of friends here in NYC and of course my sister Ariane is here, but it's not quite the same. 

Nia traveled to Columbus Memorial Day weekend with my parents, and it was so funny to see her literally resume her playdates with her cousins and see her eyes light up with familiarity. It was precious!

I'm glad I was able to capture a few special moments . . .