I walked through the new house there that my parents just built, and walked down the hill through the house of my childhood that still smells like Nana; I said goodbye again. We took the kids fishing in the pond where the fish, as always, bite faithfully at glinting metal hooks; we drove to town and ran our hands over antique phones and bowling pins; we bought old kitchen tools and played cards that night at the kitchen table. I hiked a trail-less path with my sister, sister-in-law, and brother through thickets of rhododendron bushes and sprinkled my nephew's ashes above the clouds. I learned more about loss, and about holding on to each other. I piled in the car again, with my sister, Silas and Eden and drove all the way east to the Virginia shore.
A hurricane, or several hurricanes, really, are spinning their ways through the ocean, and the waves are rolling the way they do in surfers' dreams. Ben arrived here and is in heaven. We have walked on a wide empty beach, mixed huge pitchers of goombay smash and margaritas; we've hammered blue crabs caked in old bay on the outside table and hauled buckets and chairs to the sand. I've had to, once again, take deep breaths and sort out what matters as I parent and co-parent with family. I've steadied myself on Ben's eyes and had long talks with Eden as she swims in the tub. I've watched my four-year-old boy, the "cautious one," fly to shore on huge waves, cheered on by his father, and have bitten my tongue and let him ride. I've wiped Eden's red tearing eyes over and over as she's blinked away sun tan lotion and watched her dig through bins of princess clothes and barbie dolls in a closet of the rental house, and again, bitten my tongue and watched her mother and love them.
And now I'm being called to stand on the dunes with the rest of the crew to smile into the low sun as we take family pictures, so with hair wet and unbrushed, off I go.