The last trip we took to British Columbia to see my husband’s family was 2003. Although he’s been out a few times since, it’s seems like a life time ago that we journeyed with a camper and four kids out through the States so our children could meet aunts, uncles and cousins for the first time.
Using our upcoming 30th anniversary as an excuse, I successfully convinced my husband that a trip out West would be money well-spent. As we approached Vernon in our rented car I could feel the excitement building but I also felt frustrated that our scheduled visit with my husband’s parents wasn’t to take place until the next day. Amazingly my husband decided we would surprise his parents and pop in anyway. That first connection inspired a flood of emotion in me that continued throughout the visit.
I don’t think I was prepared for the powerful emotions that would overwhelm me throughout the visit. Doors and arms were open wide welcoming us as if we’d never been apart. It was so moving to experience the hospitality and warmth of family – some of whom, if not for Facebook, I wouldn’t really know at all.
More than once, moved to tears, my heart overflowed with gratitude. To feel connected to these people that I’ve only felt on the periphery of was very moving. Identifying common traits and characteristics among “his people” that I’ve grown so accustomed to in my husband caused me to smile so often. These mannerisms and actions that in isolation seem to so uniquely define him, in the company of his parents and siblings are shared and familial. I wish my kids could have been there to connect things up in the same way from gestures, to phrasing, to the way his dad’s mouth goes down at the corner – it’s like it all fits.
While in Vernon I also had the opportunity to visit a cousin of mine I hadn’t seen in over 20. My real memories of him are rooted back to when I was pre 7 years old. A bit apprehensive at the start, his truthful expression of emotion related to my deceased brother, who was his best friend, opened a dialogue and connection that moved me and I felt would have pleased my brother.
So much enjoyment from getting to know my niece and her family, enjoying – if only for a brief time – the relationship of my sisters and brothers in law – enriched our experience beyond my expectations. Getting to meet a nephew I’d never met before and his wife was also a dream come true. Another niece home from travels abroad colliding perfectly with our visit seemed so wonderfully timed; and yet another nephew was in town with his wife and sweet little son – more than I could have hoped for!
As I reflect on the visit I am so filled with gratitude that tears well up in my eyes. Connections, family: is there anything more meaningful or important? I am sad that there is such a great distance between us but I hope that the doors that opened will remain open and the connection strengthened in person will continue.