Ralph Waldo Emerson said this:
No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing.
That’s because a crew needs to be in synch; to pull together at equal strength. Connected. Coordinated.
Several dozen years ago, I was invited to my best friend’s family reunion. I had already met Cheryl’s immediate family, but didn’t know there was a fourth brother. Gary.
A lot of frisbee-throwing and river-dunkings and baseball-playing took place that weekend on Oregon-green grass. And each night, Gary and I talked late around the campfire.
When it was time to say good-bye, Gary asked if he could write. Letters jetted back and forth between Europe and Denver. Ink on airmail stationary. You may have heard of it.
A year later, after I returned to the States and after our first official date, Gary asked me to marry him.
Wait … what?!
The smartest thing I ever did was say, Yes.
And now the 49th annual Johnson family reunion is this Memorial Day weekend. They were expecting between 100-120 people. Minus one. Me.
After hundreds of road miles and thousands of air miles these past few weeks, my body rebelled. It said, “Nope. I’m not getting back in that car and driving again. My throat hurts. And I’m achy all over. I need you to sleep. Deep and long.”
Sigh. I had plans to take photos and write a blog about the importance of a support team while undergoing adversity. I was going to write about how my husband’s family loved us as Gary lived and died well with cancer.
And I was going to write about how these same in-laws support me in widowhood—maybe without even realizing it—by including me in all their family gatherings.
This thought from Jane Howard:
Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe … whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.
Since I’m not at the family gathering to take photos, I’m going to “borrow” some from Facebook to show you what I missed this year (photo credit: Jonathan Bamford).
I missed playing in the sand …
… and playing in the water …
… and climbing the ropes.
I missed counting how many Johnson men it takes to flip enough burgers to feed a hundred people …
… and I missed chatting with some of my beautiful nieces.
In my absence, multiple text messages dinged on my phone:
“How are you feeling?”
“We miss you.”
“I’m sorry you got sick.”
“Are you coming down????”
“Love and miss you.”
“Sitting here talking about you.” (Hmm … now that doesn’t sound good.)
And so even though I wasn’t at this year’s
support group meeting family gathering, I still felt supported and loved and missed.
I’m curious: What does your support group look like?
It doesn’t matter so much what we call it – team, network, battalion, Bible study group, knitting posse, hike crew; it matters that we get connected.
Because we’re better together.
P.S. If you know of someone who needs to get plugged into community, please share, tweet or pin!