It was sweet, our time up north.  Sweet for being with family.  Sweet for watching Lucy catch her first fish and eating Grant’s pike and seeing great grandma and great grandpa get such a kick out of the kids.  Sweet for remembering that the empty chair around the camp fire used to be so filled with a very proud Mumsy who would sit, knitting small somethings, for hours at a time and watch the kids make merry on the beach. Sweet and hard.  So hard.

Hard to get to Canada on the boat, ready to eat a good dinner, and find her little book she kept everyone’s names and birth dates in for the border patrol.  Hard seeing that clean, cursive handwriting and not think about the smooth hands that wrote it.

Hard watching the kids head off on the Gator for an ice cream at the store and not think that, were she still here, it would be her driving, silently praying for a store full of people she could show them off to.
Hard seeing her kids miss her so much.  No one asks them how they’re doing.  Not ever.  Just dad, and he needs that, but so do they.  They lost their mom, after all.  Their loss is keen too.  Hard for us all at different moments as different things touch our raw edges and made us think maybe we were going to come unraveled.  But we didn’t.  It was still hard though.
Hard to sit in church, batting the mosquitos away and sing that song we last sang at her funeral, that I can’t remember, but I know we did because she loved it.  I remember.
But we made new memories too.  Of mystery trips to Duck Lake and buggy hikes to old ruins and Sea-Doo runs to Canada for biodegradable diapers.  Of tubing and fishing and watching great grandma slip each kid a dollar for some good deed.  A dollar to be redeemed at the store.  A dollar that could be traded for one fifth a jack knife or one third a bright pink cellphone makeup kit from China.  There will be pictures of all these things and more in the coming days as we unpack our memories and settle back into summer in the lower peninsula, reveling in days spent on Nana’s beach and readily available gluten free products and fresh produce.  Until then, there is this: we did it.  Our first trip without Mumsy.  It sucked. It was sweet.  We’re home.  Deep breath.
This is me being real.

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