The Surprise

I don't know if what I'm about to say is a cliche or not, but absence DOES make the heart grow fonder. There are so many family members I miss. Some far, far away. Some forty minutes away. And some unfortunately (for us, not them) in the bosom of  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

And this, too, may be a cliche but you REALLY don't know that you've got until it's gone. Hey, the rock band Cinderella thought this cliche was strong enough to write lyrics. 

This isn't a depressing post. Believe me. I just wanted to share with you how doing something so small could mean so much, for so many people. 

A couple of weeks ago, before Coptic Christmas to be exact, our Aunt sent us an invitation to her retirement party via Messenger. Or what our family group fondly refers to as Messenger 2.0 (as a side note, we did have an original Messenger without a digit, but it wasn't well received by many). Because of the complaints some of us received, we went rogue and created 2.0.  Now, let me also tell you that the messages in this family group can sometimes turn into a cacophony of gifs , emojis, bitmojis, and stream of consciousness thoughts and forethoughts. Basically, complete nonsense. Hmmm, looking back, I can see why some of us (I'd like to think we're intellectually superior) went rogue. And not to sound corny, as I often do, 2.0 has really brought us, the renegades, together. All topics discussed, no holds barred. If you want to share your dinner creations with the group, post on 2.0. Got a great snapshot of your kid dancing, post on 2.0. Want to tell the group that you're sick, post a  pic of yourself on the couch, Kleenex in hand. Instant connection= instant "how did you make that", instant great job, and instant feel better. 

So, in the middle of all this horseshit (said very lovingly), our Aunt, sends a picture of her retirement party invitation, and says, "All of you are invited." I thought for a brief second about the proposal, and then asked the hubster, "Do you think we can go?" His answer: find someone to cover for me for 3 days and we can go. What?! Seriously?! No more thinking about it?

And that was the beginning of the surprise to head west to California.

In those 3 days, I learned so many lessons:

1. As the Bible says (not turning religious or anything), rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn. And this occasion was definitely joyous.

2. Paradise without people, is not worth going in to. California is a beautiful,  beautiful state. But what makes going there feel like paradise is the people, our family, that lives there--not the palm trees (although they're breathtaking), not the 72 degrees and sunny, not that Lisa lives there (and that I may run in to her at SUR), and not the shopping experiences (as painful as that may sound).

3. Regardless of distance, regardless of time, regardless of money, regardless of health, regardless of responsibilities, regardless of obstacles, regardless of a lot of "I can'ts", don't ever hesitate to show someone how much you love them. And even though a congratulatory phone call, card or message on 2.0 would have been enough, nothing compares to the warm embrace of a loved one. Nothing.

4. Children do grow to emulate their parents. They copy what we do (and sometimes when we're not looking or actually paying attention). The learn from us, the good and the bad. For my kids, this was an invaluable, unintended lesson for keeping connected with their relatives--the ones far away, but close to their hearts.

5. The heart never disappoints. Never.

Why can't we all be together?