Last night the hubby, kiddos and I went to a wedding in my hometown. Not the town that I listed as my address for 18 years, but the one where I went to 13 years of school and 22 years of church. My longest-known friend was getting married. I've known Travis for all but 10 months of my almost 34 years. Our parents have been best friends forever and we grew up together. I've literally known him longer than my own sister!
There are pictures of the three of us (me, Travis and Coley) in the bathtub together as little tykes. (I would have included some of them, but they are buried in my parents basement somewhere.) Then my brother and his sister joined the group, and that made five. We all went to the same church, sang in the same programs, were confirmed together, lighted candles together. Then we went away to college...together, all at the same school. Except my brother, the traitor, who went to a private school to play football and ended up cheerleading (another tale, another time).
So this is a long way of saying that Travis and I go way back, farther back than anyone else on this planet. He's my other brother. Whenever we see each other, which isn't as often as it should be now that we've gone and grown up, it's a big hug or two and lots of laughter. It was a joy to see him get married to a wonderful gal, I can't wait to get to know her better!
But along with the fun of a lifelong friend's wedding comes other joys. The joy of seeing your church family again. I only have one uncle, total, that's it. And he lives in Ohio so we never saw them. So my church family is literally my family. They've held together and held on to one another. They love and support you like nothing you've ever felt. We walked in late to the ceremony and one of the pillars-of-the-church was sitting just inside the door. He leapt up, threw his arms around me and said, "I'm so glad you could come." These same people prayed and loved for our family the first time Dad had cancer. I was sixteen. Now he's fighting it again and they are back at it. Loving and praying for my parents from afar. These people are my real aunts and uncles and cousins. They're closer than family.
The only thing missing last night was my beloved Eleanor. My youth leader growing up. It's been a year and half since she died and I still miss her. I miss getting cards from her with funny sayings just because she was thinking of me. I looked around the church and didn't see her little, silver-haired body or hear her laugh...and I missed her desperately. I think I always will. I keep the card she sent me two weeks before she died and the pictures she included of me and her in high school. She could always talk me into doing stuff with her, like dressing up as clowns for a Turtle Days Parade! I hate clowns and I don't like Turtle Days. But I loved Eleanor, so I did it. We all did.
It was so wonderful to laugh and hug and share and celebrate. You can go home again...I did it just last night.