Happy Sunday, everyone!
In my last post, 2015 - The Year Life's Beauty Exploded, I shared about the beginning of what was setting up to be one of the most extraordinary years of my life. As I mentioned in that post, the beauty really exploded when I got uncomfortable and moved outside my comfort zone of Southern Minnesota. As much as that area will always be near and dear to my heart, there is so much out in the world to be discovered!
Around the beginning of 2015, I had been in more serious contact with one of my father's sisters, Dana, about making a trip out to Massachusetts to see her and other family members. We had talked a bit here and there in my recovery, through Facebook, but nothing in depth. I remembered her from my time visiting my father in junior high. We stayed at her house a few nights. I also remember her sharing at my father's funeral, specifically about how he'd have all the grocery totals figured out before the cash register did. Boy, did I relate!!
Anyhow, we had talked about me making a trip for way too long. I had little to no money, but made a leap of faith and purchased a plane ticket and rental car one day that winter, and it was official - I was headed back to see her and others in May! I can remember flying into Albany, NY late at night and making the hour and a half drive to Springfield, MA. My aunt Dana said she'd be waiting up, until my 1am arrival to Springfield, MA. She had to be crazy! As I know today, she had so much love flowing through her that she could have stayed up for three days if she needed to.
There was something about my father's family that left me with such a feeling of familiarity and comfortability. I spent several days with my father's sister, Dana, and made a trip to New York to see a couple other sisters, Donna and Patti. I'll never forget my time out there. It truly was an experience that changed my life. I was surprised at how familiar and comfortable it felt to be there, and as I returned home, I was even more surprised at how depressed I felt about not being there. I was sad to think about missing out on such wonderful and meaningful relationships all my life. I had to go back, so I immediately bought a ticket for later on that year, around Christmas time.
Following that Christmas visit, I would go on to make trips out there every year - sometimes two per year, sometimes three, even five or six. My aunts helped take care of me when I was a baby and that bond was restored immediately when I returned in 2015. The feelings I felt are indescribable, but if there's a way to express some of it - I just felt 100% okay and comfortable. There are a few houses in this world that I can truly kick back and relax in, and not have any sense of worry present. Dana's and Donna's are two of them. I cherish every moment I get with them. As many of you know, I wasn't able to get to know my father a ton while he was alive. I have, however, been able to get to know him through my aunts. The stories they tell are so incredible and intriguing. I could listen to them all day.
2020 has been extremely challenging in many ways, but not being able to see my aunts as much has been one of the hardest parts. My two closest aunts are battling cancer and other health problems. They have taught me a TON about strength, faith and hope in even the darkest of days. That's who they are. That's what they are. Knowing they are going through what they are this year makes it even more extraordinary that they love and care for others the way they do. Like nothing I've ever seen before. Literally, like nothing. They've helped raise and love so many humans back to health - their own family, even some outside of their biological family. I'm so thankful they are part of my story. I'm even more thankful to be part of theirs.
If you do this type of thing, please say a prayer for my aunts, their families and their health as we move into 2021, as they look to do just what I've done in my life - bounce back from a deadly disease, stronger than ever. I vow to spend as much time as I can with them in 2021, and beyond. Because that's what recovery affords - relationships, support and connection. And that's another reason I'll keep going. Always. For you, my aunties!
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