I use the hashtag #everydaylife on Instagram a lot. My goal is to convey the deep appreciation I have for my own ordinary existence. Am I sometimes frustrated, cranky, tired, and ungrateful? You bet. Am I even more often thankful, aware to the point of pain, and struck with wonder? No question.
So, I thought I’d share some of the #everydaylife moments from an absolutely spectacular three-day weekend. For many years this has been a family weekend (no doubt driven in large part by the fact that my mother’s birthday is the 3rd). It’s a weekend I look forward to all year. My sister, our husbands, and our collective four children all gather with my parents. It brings a lump to my throat to even write that, by the way. I’m intensely conscious of how fortunate we are.
Thursday night we arrived in time for a late dinner, and to witness my father reading Swallows and Amazons to the four cousins. I loved this book as a child, and have vivid memories of him reading to me when I was a child (Treasure Island and The Water Babies feature most in my recollections).
Friday morning dawned clear and beautiful, and Hilary and I enjoyed a supremely special and immensely rare lunch with our mother for her birthday. I honestly can’t recall the last time the three of us had a sit-down meal alone, together. I’ll spare you the selfie I took of the three of us leaving, but I thoroughly enjoyed every moment won’t ever forget it.
Friday night was birthday dinner, with presents and cake and candles and photographs of Nana with her four grandchildren that I prize.
Saturday started with the small-town parade that we all love. The children love the candy that the floats throw, we all love the music, and my favorite is the ever-dwindling number of World War II veterans in the parade. I remember when some of them used to walk. There was red white and blue, small waving American flags, marching bands, and homemade raspberry, blueberry, and yogurt popsicles by Grace.
We all went out on my parents’ boat and through a series of unexpected twists ended up not joining the yacht club sunflower raft as planned but instead going out for a short sail. The code flags that we had hoisted to celebrate the holiday ripped off the halyard. Back on the mooring, we needed to get the halyard, which was billowing loose towards the top of the mast. First Grace went up in a bosun’s chair, hoisted by my father and Matt. She didn’t make it to the top before we realized the block that the line hoisting her up went through as broken, and quickly she came down. It was Whit’s turn. About 2/3 of the way up he started shouting. “Mummy! Mummy! I am terrified!” We encouraged him to keep going, and he did. He went all the way to the top of the mast, captured the loose halyard, and came back down again. It’s hard to see in the picture above, but that’s him at the top of the mast.
I told him the bravest thing I thought he did was admitting he was terrified. And then doing it anyway.
We had dinner at the yacht club, a location which always gives me slight goosebumps and where the past glints particularly brightly in the present (it’s the location where Matt and I celebrated our wedding reception). We watched the fireworks, breaths bated. Grace noted the way you could see the reflection of the starbursts on the water. Whit said he liked the ones that looked like falling stars best. I thought about how many years we’ve watched these same fireworks, at this same spot, marveling at time’s elasticity, amazed, as I am on a daily basis, at how quickly this life runs through my fingers even as I grasp at it.
We walked home and said goodbye to Hilary and her family, a farewell whose bittersweetness was tempered by how exhausted everyone was. I woke up missing them yesterday and feel sad that a weekend I anticipate for so long is over. Sunday was a quiet day, with sleeping in, tennis (we played singles, and it is near the end of days: Grace almost beat Matt, and Whit took two games off of me in a set), and an afternoon when Matt, my Dad, Grace, and Whit went sailing with a friend and Mum and I puttered around.
I was sad leaving yesterday afternoon, and wistful as we drove home (slowly). Summer is flying too quickly by, as is life itself. Grace and Whit head to camp in only a couple of weeks, and at that point it’s incontrovertible that we’re into the second half of the summer. As we crossed the Charles River into our home town, Matt pointed out the colors of the sky, the boathouse, and one of the Harvard houses. Yes. There is so much beauty all around us. And so much sorrow, too. Lambent colors, seen through the haze of tears. That what #everyday life is. It is full of beauty and gratitude and loss and memory and love. It shimmers.
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