We’re on our way back from a fantastic trip to O-H-I-O, the fam still abuzz with stories from the prior day. The return trip from our extended family is always a bittersweet one. Sweet that we’re home bound, bitter that we are leaving behind the most amazing extended family I know.
Yes, I’ve written about my husband’s infamous extended family before. The one that will always “do it their way”, and do it with arms wide open. Literally. You can’t spend time with them and NOT get hugged, and many times kissed, repeatedly. Since I grew up with a family that didn’t do that, it took me a bit to get used to. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This trip our family managed to wow me yet again. Our pilgrimage to Youngstown was really supposed to be a semi-impromptu reunion. Cancer has sunk its claws into one of our own, and the family drew together to share old memories and build new ones while we were able. It won’t be the first time the disease has struck, nor, I’m sure, will it be the last. But rather than a somber mood and constant tears, the day was filled with the sounds of squeals from happy children and laughter over shared stories by the adults. That, and the aroma of their seemingly endless offering of wonderful food.
Ironically, it was the food this trip that brought me to tears, not the circumstances. And not because it was spicy or too hot and burned my tongue. No it was this, a completely unexpected item perched on the center of the dessert table:
When I saw the cake, I was speechless (and for those of you who know me, that’s quite a feat). That our cousins would take time out of their busy schedules to even think about ordering a cake, let alone one so absolutely perfect, was just…wow.
See, this trip wasn’t about me—it wasn’t supposed to be, not in the least. And yet, our family took the opportunity of us all being together to make a point to celebrate the upcoming release of my debut novel, Armed With Steele. Everyone offered words of congratulations, made a point to let me know how proud they were of me, and stressed that they couldn’t wait to read my book, even with all we’re going through.
Now, I’m not used to so much unprompted attention, am much more comfortable trying to blend into the scenery and offer support to everyone else. But I was in such awe that they would do that for me–for me!–in the midst of everything else all I could do was hug everyone in sight and savor it. Their support was, as always, unfailing and without hesitation.
Even from the time I started to pursue the dream of being published, none of our family ever wrinkled their nose at my dreams, asked, “why would you want to write a book?”, or looked at me like I was nuts. Instead, my intentions were met with support and a constant flow of encouragement.
Sadly, I’ve heard a number of writers over the past year share unsettling tales of the exact opposite: criticism for admitting their publication dreams, chastisement for “wasting time” working to improve their writing skills.
Thankfully, I don’t have those challenges. And this weekend definitely served to reinforce that. Without the support of my family and friends, this writing journey would have been a lot more difficult. And lonely.
So here’s a huge “thank you” to my amazing family, for reminding me yet again how truly blessed I really am.
Love you all.
Oh, and the bookworm ring? I am SO wearing it on August 5th. 😉