Sunday, November 18, 2007

Are you okay?

That's what Racheal asked me last night before we turned in. We'd been talking all day long - catching up, filling each other in on our lives. This is the first time both Mike and Rae have been in my home since it ceased to be "our" home - the first time the single Maggie hosted the Tucson family since the untimely demise of what once was a marriage.

And of course, there were tears. They creep up on me at the most unexpected of moments, mostly when these extraordinary people remind me of who I was when I was at my best, when they tell me honestly that it was I who brought the fun, and Chris just came along for the ride, that they loved him because I loved him ... and I'll leave you to interpret that however you choose.

"Are you okay?" the sister of my heart asked. "Why?" I wanted to know. "Because your eyes are shiny," she said. "And I just need to know that you are okay."

Not "Stop crying," not "Get over it," not even, "Because you're crying and I'm worried about you." No, just an acknowledgment that my eyes were shiny, and what I was feeling matters to the people who love me.

What I couldn't figure out how to say last night was how grateful I am that, once again, the people who know me best are there to offer me a soft place to fall, a shoulder on which to cry, and more laughter than can be contained in one small downtown apartment. But this time, they brought something more. They brought me an amazing bundle of living breathing goodness named Kaylee.

I love getting to know my niece, to revel in the wonder of what she will become, to listen to her gurgly laugh and hear her utter "mommy" when you least expect it. But most of all, I love the fact that it's damn near impossible to feel hopeless when Kaylee is in your midst, Racheal is in your kitchen, and Mike is cracking jokes.

This is family. This is where I come from. This is who I am.

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