It was a weekend that I wish would repeat itself. Several times, if necessary. And even if it were not necessary, it would be desirable, at least by me.
It happened more than a year ago but still I remember it for it was an experience that was precious to me mostly because it was time spent, not only with my oldest brother and his wife, but also with their only daughter. She was also my god-daughter, a precocious young girl that loved to talk and read, a loving girl who was not afraid to show affection to her mother and father, a girl who recognised that her Godmother lived far away.
My sister-in-law's invitation to spend a weekend with them was accepted immediately. I wanted to see what it was like to be married and looking after a young child. Weekdays would be different, of course, but I could at least observe how it was during a weekend when the family had more time together. And during this particular weekend, they were welcoming me not only into their home, but also into their lives.
My brother and his wife had busy schedules during the week. The weekend was also busy but in a different way. When one had a child, outings were to be expected even if it was only to the library. My niece had a voracious appetite for books, something that I could relate to as I was that way when I myself was a young girl. (Whatever happened to that, I sometimes wonder.) There was also the mall and church and spending some family time at home in front of the television.
They were a family like any family. But it gave me a glimpse not only into my oldest brother's life but into the life of a young family with responsibilities and commitments. I wondered what it was like for a family of five or more, just like my family while I was growing up. It seemed busy enough with only one child.
It was refreshing to spend time with them, to spend time with my niece that I do not get to see so often. Hardly, in fact. And she is growing up before her parents' eyes and before I know it, she will have blossomed into a teenager, perhaps even preparing to enter university and then on to a career. Or would she choose another road? But she is still a mere child for now. But the children grow so quickly. They are growing older, just as I am.
The families are everywhere. That seems to be my mantra. The families are everywhere.
And my heart just breaks knowing that I will never have that kind of a life. Even a child's face on the television screen can be enough sometimes to make me burst into tears. But only when I am alone. Perhaps I'm not meant to have that kind of a life. I realise that we all make choices. I chose this vocation. I chose this man. I chose this path. It sounds so simple and straightforward. An unmarried woman may feel lonely, longing for a man to share her life with. I am not unmarried. I am a wife. But I am not immune to loneliness. Communication, they say. Communication is vital in a marriage, or in any relationship. Nothing remains the same. Nothing can remain the same. There are changes. But then again, some things never really change.
The weekend was wonderful. My brother and his wife were gracious hosts, drawing me into their family when it was appropriate to do so. I wanted to spend time with my niece (who was obviously excited about having me stay there, which also thrilled me, I have to admit) but I also got to know my brother a little bit more, quiet man that he is. Quiet woman that I am.
Even though the original idea was to spend time with my niece, I came away from that weekend knowing that my oldest brother still cared. In his own, unspoken, almost moody, way, he cared. His actions, his willingness, and even his generosity, told me so. We were not the sort of family who brought things out into the open so readily, at least, not with each other. Funnily enough, his wife was the more vocal one, at times saying what he wouldn't say. Perhaps it was easier for someone else (who hadn't grown up in our family) to state the obvious. And maybe we were even glad that she did.
Then it was time for me to leave. There was an awkward moment when he and I waited for the taxi. I should have said something then. Or maybe he wanted to say something. Neither one of us did. Maybe there was nothing to say.
That weekend gave me a glimpse into the life of a man and his wife, parents with their only child, a mother with her daughter, even a father with his daughter. It was nice. More than nice. It was a gift.