Going Home

Nothing brings families together like weddings and funerals. Last week we took a trip to Justin’s home town, to attend the latter. We planned on heading home right after the memorial service, hoping to beat the evening traffic. But it’s funny how time slows down when you leave the city…

The sky opens up, the grass gets a little greener, the calm breeze can lull you to sleep. So we lingered — we ate, we chatted, we visited.

Justin caught up with one of his childhood friends. A lot has happened since they last saw each other, but they didn’t skip a beat. They talked about their lives and, as they exchanged laughs, I could almost envision them as boys — smaller frames, but the same big smiles.

Then we stopped to see Justin’s grandmother — the original Mrs. St. Julien. We didn’t know it, but she was waiting for us with a full meal prepared. We had just eaten after the service, but who could refuse a meal your elderly grandmother made especially for you?

We sat with her in the kitchen, and ate while she whipped up a batch of sweet tea. She was so excited to see her grandson. She laughed when recalling how much of a dreamer Justin was as a kid. (He’s still that way!) He would tell her about the kind of wife he wanted. Then she said, “Well, Jamila. I’m so happy he found that wife!” It felt so good to be close to her. To see her laugh and smile.

After all that, we went to Justin’s parents’ house to say our final goodbyes. But again, the minutes tarried and before long hours passed by. We talked, ate (again), and talked some more. We lounged on the outdoor furniture until the sun faded away. It was southern patio living at it’s best.

Inspirational quotes are popular now. They’re tweeted, retweeted, pinned, and repinned on a whim. I wonder if we forget that these thoughts are born out of a real, lived experience. “You have to remember where you came from to know where you’re going” comes to mind.

In my life I’ve put such value on moving forward. But I’m realizing that looking back is also priceless. It’s not to say that one should live in the past. But, it’s helpful to take a step back from life’s rat race and connect with your beginnings. Your friends, your family, the people who are always rooting for you — even from a distance. We couldn’t afford to miss the moments we had last week. The laughs, tears, hugs, and memories brought us back to a place we almost forgot we belonged.

Photo credit: {Ruche}

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