By the time, we reach the 894 bypass, I could have driven the rest of the way to my mom’s house without hesitation or doubt. My mom took all the right exits chatting away while my father scrunched up in the back seat listened to our small talk.
When she pulled into the garage, I ran into the house and engulfed my sister in a hug that had neither beginning nor end. It just was. Then I sidled up to my brother in law and felt whole in his embrace. A few moments later, I remembered my luggage and trounced down the stairs to collect it. Within the hour, my father dealt the cards for Dirty Clubs, and in that moment my patchwork family quilted a new memory: That night Katie came back.
The routine was so familiar. The couch and wing backs still stood sentinel to the fireplace. The bookshelves housing my childhood favorites continued to wait for the next generation of adventurers. Bailey and Brenden wove underfoot both calling for then rejecting my attention. The cards dealt 3-2-3-2-3.
Yet, there were spider web cracks in this mirror of Christmases past—four stockings hung on the mantle, figurines perched in the place of my father’s dusty tomes; his antique Santa bank watched over another house this year.Everyone did their best to make me feel at home. They each contributed a favorite food to the homecoming feast. We ate, drank, and talked over one another, per usual. We shelved our differences, our opinions, and our hurts to celebrate everyone's health and presence at the table.
We are still trying to figure out how to function as a five person unit. Some of the cogs are misplaced, some of the joints were broken but are now mended, and some of the wheels that kept everything turning are lost forever. But, we try to make it work because that’s what we’ve always done.