I very much consider where I live now home, but my parents house is still home too. I'm home at their house for the week—a week of chaos (7 adults, 5 kids, 2 dogs in a small house), staying up too late with my sisters, laughing until we almost pee our pants; a week coming home covered in salt and sand and sunscreen (nothing like a shower after a day at the beach). Tomorrow my cousins will come and we'll be at the beach from breakfast to dinner. We'll come home tired and sunburned and put the kids to bed. And then I won't go to my high school reunion.
I never committed to going or not going. There are a few people I'd really like to see, friends I've almost kept in touch with over the past twenty years. There are some people I'm curious to see and find out what they are doing. There are a couple of people I don't want to see, but mostly there are people I don't really care about either way. And I don't know who knows. Do you have kids? How old? I don't stumble over these questions as much as I used to, but I don't like answering them. I get weary thinking about it. It's easier to walk into a room full of strangers who I know don't know than a room full of people I once knew who may or may not know.
A one-time friend stopped by two years ago as we were getting ready for the parade. I was pregnant with Kathleen and just over 6 months out from Henry's death. I had walked on the beach that morning with my cousin's baby, enjoying her little body snuggling against my chest as we walked by the waves, but also lamenting that I never got Henry to the beach, that he never saw the ocean I sang to him about so many times. Mostly, I was having a good day, I was with my family. I was safe and content and I didn't want to break that by saying I had a little boy and he died. I didn't know if she knew, but I just didn't want to have that conversation right then. As she was leaving, my sister told her. I haven't seen or heard from her since. And this bothers me more than I realized.
A good friend of my sister's who had lost touch with her for a while got in touch with her back in March. They talked for a long time and they caught up on news. He emailed me after they talked and we've played Scrabble on Facebook and chatted there. He didn't shy away, but you never know who will.
There are plenty of people out there who don't know. And I don't feel like telling that story. I don't feel like agreeing that I have my daughter now but pointing out that I still miss and grieve for my baby boy. And, because I overanalyze things, I've thought about this and debated whether I should go because I should tell this story, because I shouldn't be a coward. Ten years ago, I didn't go to my reunion either. It fell on 4th of July weekend. I was here, but so were my cousins and friends who came to visit. I decided I'd rather spend the evening with them. That's what I'm doing this time too. There are kids to settle, games to play, cookies and ice cream to eat. My sisters and I will stay up too late even if we're tired; my mom will almost fall asleep playing a game with us. We'll all finally agree to go to bed saying we'll regret staying up so late when the kids are up in a few hours. And we will be tired, but we won't regret it—and we won't stop doing it.
Right now there is a cool breeze coming up from the harbor. The air is dry, the sun shining. My dad is running errands and all the others are at the playground. Kathleen went down for an early nap and I'm enjoying a little quiet and breathing deeply the ocean air.
It's good to be home.