Meet my family.
This is the nine of us at our completely-impromptu Sunday best, with my mother asking me "Did you bring your camera" after I'm already at her house and "Do you know how to work the auto timer?" when the instruction book is somewhere at home, its spine still uncracked.(Thankfully, I'm not opposed to pushing every button with those indecipherable symbols to figure it out).
This is us--slightly neurotic, definitely exhausted, a good bit high strung, and always flexible. We fly by the seat of our never-need-pressing dresses and our just-put-your-coat-on-and-nobody-will-notice shirts.
Still, it still seems strange to see so many smiles in one shutter click.
We began as only four--my mother and daddy, brother, and me. Thirteen years later, even the dining table and its eight chairs that I bought because I wanted it to be big enough really isn't. Each time the nine of us gather for a meal, we have to drag in an extra chair from some other room of the house. And when our extended family and friends partake with us, out come the piano bench, the rolling office chair, and whatever other seating options we can cobble together.
My brother and sister by marriage are the ones on the far right--blue polo shirt and royal purple dress. Johnathan is the Navy chaplain and Liza works with CASA. Both just recently left Washington D.C. and moved to North Carolina, one of those routine government-change-of-assignments that will take them (and us) all across the nation and around the globe.
In the midst of the once-every-three-or-four-years-move, they left the chaos of unpacked boxes and well-wrapped china to come for a quick visit.
As you might expect, our daily lives simply stopped. Last weekend was a whirlwind love fest, Louisiana style, of course.
There was a valiant attempt to make a homemade hummingbird cake for mother's birthday, two chances to worship together at both our churches, a Cinco de Mayo fajita fiesta, and a crawfish boil (along with several crawfish shell "burials" around GrandMama's yard, courtesy of my powdered-sugar-war-painted daughter).
Then, there was the ever-coveted time playing with the world's best Uncle Johnathan. Nobody can elicit giggles, race on bicycles, or play ball better than my brother. Nobody.
Each time Johnathan and Liza leave to return back to their home, I believe there’s no more that could have possibly been crammed into their visit. Yet, at the next gathering, we seem to outdo ourselves again. And each time they are no longer with us in the body, all I can say is, “One day, there will be no more goodbyes.” No more.
Oh, how I long for that one day.