The year and the decade are just hours away from demise. Time is so fast these days– I’m sorry for it and feel guilty for wishing them gone.
In our house tonight there is the constant commentary of two teenage boys playing video games and eating (my last goal of 2019 is simply not to run out of food…) The pups are with Robby and I on the couch– Hildy is inexplicably in her taco halloween costume and Gus is nervously pacing between his parents unsure of whom to sit with (the keyboard is a huge distraction). The tree is lit in the corner the candles on the mantle are lit– so we’ve got the hygge thing going. I have a luke warm latte nearby and a book waiting to be finished.
It’s been a good year in our small world:
In the winter we traveled to Florida with the high school band and watched Jack march in the half-time show of the Outback Bowl with a few hundred other excited high school musicians (I sat through an entire game! with a book… but still! I sportsed!). It was ridiculously fun– there was a parade and the chance for us to see Hogwarts and Hogsmeade at Universal Studios. We rang in the New Year with fireworks at Busch Gardens and some of the nicest teenagers (one paused when getting on the bus to say, “I’m so glad you came on this trip, Mrs. Reynolds” and made my whole year before it’d even begun). Later Jack and Will went to the State Solo & Ensemble where they squeaked out a II rating and determined to return for a blue medal. We went to a Harry Potter concert. Jack and the Youts led a worship service and had their annual Super Soup or Subs fundraiser.
In the Spring I made it through the first day of a confirmation retreat before being sent home with a horrid virus that knocked out most of Spring Break– though Jack and I managed an overnight in Chicago with Maddie and Tyler and a visit to the Field Museum. Our friends Nick and Katie were married and our Uncle Tom died (unrelated occurences– but one that had us all separated one weekend in April). Robby’s parents hosted Easter. Robby and our dear friend, Marc, were appropriately stunned when The Wives managed to pull off the surprise heist of the year and a celebration of their birthdays at Walt Disney World. It was the best long weekend– one that we will savor for years. On Robby’s actual birthday we were up at the Grand Traverse resort for the annual conference of the Michigan Area Conference of United Methodists. The mood there was rather progressive– a balm that helped soothe the free moments on twitter where I followed the memorial service for Rachel Held Evans. I miss her voice. I miss the bridge she was between the things I used to Know and the things I know now. And then there came the rush of the end of the Jack’s freshman year– concerts and parades and exams. Our pastor retired and we prepared to welcome a new one– and live in the liminal space again.
The summer, like most before it since Jack, flew by– and there were the usual placeholders– Mission Trip, Fourth of July at the Lake, Rookie Camp, Band Camp, and Family Camp. But too there was a week at Lake Michigan for me where I helped in the kitchen with friend Jo– a week where the beach was literally measurably yards away and yet we were too tired to trek over there after three meals and a mountain of dirty dishes each day. Jo and I inadvertently stumbled on to a tacqueria that was so oddly hidden it became an instant epic tale. We’d lick our oily fingers again when we took the Family Camp family there later in the summer prompting an epic “Tie Dye Tuesday Taco” feast. Jack and I had a few little day adventures on our own– my favorite was a trip to the peony gardens at U of M. We were lost and unsure of our path– but we bumbled our way through the woods and found the field of peonies in perfect bloom– that fragrant hour was amazing. GusGus ended up in a Cone of Shame when he tore out a toenail scratching at the fence (and the neighbor’s pup, his arch enemy). I spent a hot weekend redoing the old library as a bedroom for Jack. (GusGus and Hildy sported colorful tails when it was finished. Bright blue streaks.)
The fall brought Jack’s sophomore year, Football Fridays and Marching Band Mondays. Concessions for Robby and I. Our town was brightened by new murals that had us visiting the downtown over multiple trips in a week to watch the artists at work. Jack turned 15– after a year without any seizures. We celebrated both events– and took Jack’s two best buddies with us to Boyne for an overnight. We snuck in a trip to Lake Michigan to help put the camp to bed for the summer. Only a small knot of us were able to go but our little cabin was a good place to tuck into snacks and cards. And we made it to the Hillsdale Co. Fair to gorge on Fiske fries, corndogs, and shake-em-up lemonade. A King Arthur (the Monty Python version) costume was assembled. Our living room was the site of the annual reckoning of the Trick or Treat haul. Jack and Robby joined the community band at Jackson College and wowed us (sister and I) in their tuxedos with a concert far surpassing our expectations. Jack tried out for the school play and got a fantastic part in Almost Maine– so a weekend was spent sitting in the dark marveling at his ease on stage. Leaves were raked. Greens were hung. Sundays with the Youts were navigated with silly games and listening between the lines of their Highs and Lows. We made Thanksgiving at our house for Robby’s parents who limped through the fall with surgeries and hospital stays. GusGus managed to wrangle a stay in the puppy ER/hospital after eating a box of raisins.
I saw out December with a smorgasbord of tiny jams– the best Advent calendar ever. My momma and Eric came home from their French home. A flurry of Christmas parties and concerts and activities– but no snow until late last night. Christmas was merry and bright and overwhelmingly kind to us all– Robby and I gave each other barista club mugs at our favorite coffee (tea) shop–like O. Henry except that I didn’t have to sell my combs… or the Apple watch that Robby surprised me with. (Meanwhile, the theme music to our life is now the bass line to Smoke on the Water that gets played over and over and over again on Jack’s new electric bass guitar…) Two new things we hope become traditions– serving at the local shelter and delivering hot cinnamon rolls to the family in our jammies.
I read good books: Michelle Obama’s Becoming, Olivia Hawker’s One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow. Tracy Chevalier’s A Single Thread. Carol Rifka Brunt’s Tell the Wolves I’m Home. Zacharia Lee’s Across the Great Lake. Nathan Englander’s Kaddish.Com. Pete Buttigieg’s The Shortest Way Home. But fell nine short of my goal to read 52 books. We saw good movies (and some bad ones) but loved Toy Story 4; Yesterday; Downtown Abbey; and Episode IX of StarWars best. I am mourning the impending ending of my favorite podcast, The West Wing Weekly.
Robby and I celebrated 25 years of being his and hers.
Outside– the medium world wasn’t as kind. Dear friends have lost parents this year. My college friend lost a daughter. A Mommy friend lost her brother. People we’ve picked up as family have had health scares and losses. The bigger world has been in a freefall with fascist leaders on the rise, acts of hate and violence that pile up in my newsfeed in overwhelming rapidity– so much fear and anxiety and hatred. Some days it squeezes out the hope.
In the middle of this an old friend called. What a gift that is– to laugh with another person. When I hung up there was a silly string of teasing from the Far Flungs on my fb wall. And a group text with the youth leaders that was full of bad dad jokes.
So I’ll end where I began– feeling grateful for the little family in this house and our pups. A roof (albeit a sometimes leaky one) over our heads. A book to read. Tea to drink. And family and the friends that became family to love and that love us.
Be kind, 2020, please.