I Spy a Family

It was one of those rare late summer evenings.  The kind when the air is cool rather than humid and the locusts are silent rather than buzzing.  There was no wind, no clouds, just clear, beautiful stillness.

Knox and Lil' C were in the back yard with Hubby, who was throwing baseballs.  Knox, who is not particularly athletic, was knocking the heck out of them, and Lil' C was cheering him on.

Baby E was waiting eagerly by the back door, and I let him out just as I would shoo a little puppy out to play.

Slim was in the basement putting Lego's together, and I could hear the adventure that he was scripting for his Star Wars characters.

I was busily wiping the counters and washing every last pot and pan in an attempt to leave more time to cuddle with the boys before bed. The windows were open letting the cool fresh air swirl through the house.

And suddenly it hit me...

a feeling of contentment and peace such that I haven't had in a really, really long time. 

Maybe since long before Joey's diagnosis.

Usually when I look upon scenes such as the one I was viewing, I am washed with sadness and anger, fear and hostility. I think about the what-ifs and the why-hims, and I'm filled with bitterness and envy for those families that are whole and complete.  And I have an ache in my heart that hurts so badly I feel as if I might want to just curl up and die.

But this night felt different. It felt happy, sweet and other worldly. I don't mean in a way that I was hovering out of my body or anything, but it just felt so different than what I have been feeling for the past three years and four months.  Like I was someone different and I was looking at a different family who had been through different circumstances.

By the time I was finished with my kitchen chores, Hubby had lit a fire in the outdoor fireplace and the boys had gathered around it.  I turned on some jazz music loud enough to be heard in the backyard, found Slim who was now playing his Nintendo DS, and coaxed him outside with me.

It was dusk and Knox had found a flashlight.  He was holding it under his chin and telling spooky stories.  Hubby and I laughed in sinister voices - mwa haa haa haa - and Lil' C was riveted to every word Knox uttered.  Even though Slim was still playing his DS, he would laugh and add a bit to Knox's story here and there.  And Baby E was toddling from one of us to other as we patted and hugged him and tossed him toys.

Lil' C is enthralled with Knox's story.

Daddy and Slim being entertained by Knox's story.

Even Baby E wants to listen.

And that's when it happened: I spied a family.

A family that, although they may yell and argue and disagree, still knows how to laugh and love and live.

A family that knows how to go on even though there is a hole in their hearts and an empty seat around the fire.  A family that is living as their brother would live - in the moment. 

In the goofy, silly moment.

Instead of being angry and bitter that Joey is gone, I smiled thinking how much like Joey Knox has become.

And it made me happy.  It made me happy to know that pieces of him are going to live on and make themselves known in infinite moments like these.  In surprise ways that will hit us and fill our hearts with joy.

That joy will never replace the sadness we feel.  It will never fill the empty hole left by our sweet Joey's absence.

What it will do is help us to go on, to be that family that I spied. The family that must accept what their numbers are, not what they should be.  The family that must work to find joy most of the time and be surprised when joy finds it some of the time.

I spied a family that has finally learned how to move forward, not holding on to the past, but carrying a piece of it with them.

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