Recently, my three sisters and I were overjoyed when we found we’d be alone an entire weekend. My parents were leaving for a weekend to get some much needed relaxation. They left last Friday evening and we spent the weekend bonding, burning, and watching.
Saturday, after spending several hours getting sunburned at the pool, we came home pained and tired. Dinner, we decided would consist of the pizza Mom had left and enjoying home videos. As we travelled through the last five years of the Smith Family journey, I realized how much had changed in our lives. As we started out, we were still together as one family. But, that was short lived. We watched Justin prepare for and marry all over again, looked on as Drew left home to discover his own path, I left for College and graduated. Emily departed for College, as well, and began dating. Laura and Kathleen watched as their family separated.
The same weekend, my twin brother called with some saddening news. After suffering a great deal over the last few years, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He lost it. And we cried with him. Kathleen, the youngest, let tears fall freely from her eyes. “I just want to hug him, but he’s so far away. I hate being the youngest. I hate having to watch everyone leave!” How terribly sad.
When Justin got married, we children were thrilled. This meant nieces, nephews, and a wonderful wife. But, in a way, we were a little sad, too. The King of Narnia had relinquished his rule. The tight-knit, imaginative Smith clan had realized its first step towards dissolution. The eventual disbanding is inevitable and is something we children feared through out our entire childhood. Losing one another.
I used to think how lucky we were. We children went without so much, materially speaking. No televisions existed in our room, we could not fathom having our own telephone. But, we had each other. Especially we four older children. We spun creative games that would have marvelled even Aesop. Flying animals that saved the world from destruction. A magical kingdom that existed solely on imagination and Faith. Christmas in July and dancing ladybugs in December. Yes, we kids were blessed. And then came the end.
But, we were the end. While we older children bravely took the first step out of the nest, Kathleen and Laura were forced to watch, and stay behind. Yes, they had to suffer through four good-byes and the house became progressively quieter. The flying animals went their separate ways to save the world in different places. The ladybugs flew to different valleys. The King found a Queen. Now, Kathleen and Laura live for the days when the four older children are at home. When the house is full of screams and giggles again. They feed off of the still existent imagination of their older siblings when they are home. Which is not often enough.
As I think back to times long gone, I remember a young blond boy who wove threads of lore into fanciful games and five younger children who clapped and jumped, hanging on for the next idea. I recall a red-headed boy who quietly stood by his brother’s side and made intricate toys from Lego’s and string. I remember a small, blond girl who lived for each day and revelled in the magic of games. There was a brunette who stood right along side her older sister, waiting to go dance across their bedroom and pull out the Barbie tub. Then, two more girls followed, who were dubbed princesses and carried around on pillows. Time seemed to stretch on and the children lived for each Holiday, most especially Christmas. Magic seemed to perpetually exist visually in the air and one only had to reach out and grasp it.
Now, I see different times. The blond boy lives in South Dakota and has a wife and baby. He makes his family proud with his vast education and incredible job. The red-headed boy became sad and moved far away, still trying to find his way back. The small, blond girl feels acutely the pain of each member of her family as they struggle with their Crosses. She is graduated from College and is all grown up. The brunette holds a lot inside and has become quiet lately. She is in College now and has someone special. The two youngest girls watch quietly and patiently as their siblings go off to fight the good fight, to follow God’s will. And sometimes they cry.
Taking the first step out of the nest was scary and daunting. To gather all one’s courage and leap meant complete trust. However, I would not trade it for the other option. To be forced to watch a family slowly separate and expand has to be extremely painful. The entirety of my sisters’ lives and memory has been saying good-bye. My sister Emily brought up a very good point: “When Kathleen became old enough to finally appreciate what was occurring around her, Justin left.” We all soon followed suit. Thankfully, we have our Faith. As Justin has pointed out many times, we all must strive for Heaven. How often I have thought of this. In Heaven we shall never have to say good-bye ever again. Heaven will be the combination of dancing ladybugs in December and Christmas in July, of flying animals and tangible magic. Best of all, we shall all be together for eternity, with the real King, the One Who never relinquishes His rule.