I had a wonderful week with my in-laws. It's a unique situation...maybe not so unique, but still very special to me. If you read my blog (TWO...count them...TWO readers) you know that my husband, Brian, passed away when we were very young. That's been 19 years ago exactly tomorrow. Hard to believe that so many years have passed. His family, the Johnsons of the Wildwoods, have never let me forget that I belong to them. Just the other night, over margaritas at Pepito's, my mother-in-law, Carmen said those exact words "You belong to us." She's an amazing woman whom I love and admire greatly. And she loves her some margaritas. Incredibly refined and always in control, one margarita unlocks the door to her "long hair" side. I love that about her. She shines. And funny!...she makes me laugh until my sides hurt. She opens her house to me and I feel like I'm home.
And then there's Ray...my father-in-law. He comes and goes but when he's there, he's there. Warm, big-hearted and full of stories about his military life, his gunshop, and anything else that involves explicit, technical mechanical details or a man named Beaudreaux. The man is always working on things. And he always fixes them. He loves his family and hands out hugs and kisses unlike most men I know.
Kristin, the baby of the family, has grown into a young woman. My first date with Brian was taking Kristin and my little sister, Pam, to see The Fox and the Hound. It was so sweet. She was so tiny and slight. Full of questions. Now she's a beautiful young woman with two girls of her own, Bella and Anna Marie, and well on her way to making a life for herself and her two girls as a single mother. I have no doubt that she can accomplish this.
And then there's Diahn, the middle determined child. We befriended each other in high school and it never ceases to amaze me when she says she thought that I was cool...ME...in high school. And how she loved it that I let her hang around with me and my cool senior friends at lunch. My friends and I were anything but cool.
We were the anti-cool.
The negative of cool.
We were...well, let's face it, we were cool repellent.
But when I'm with her, my sister-in-law, we are anti-cool together. We remember. We laugh. We drink a little and laugh a lot. We sing. We throw out Monty Python one liners like crazy.
And we catch up on every detail imaginable that we've missed. Never miss a beat.
I am different, yet the same when I return to Tuscaloosa, to the Wildwoods. There is a part of me there that is separate from my other life. A part of me that I left there. It's so good to remember that girl...that life. And even better to find her among sweet family, and bring her back to life, back to my family in Louisiana.