So, my family drove off towards Washington state and I flew to Oregon. My nephew, Gage, picked me up and drove me to the hospital. It was so, so, so, good to see my sister Kristi and give her a big hug. Seeing Sawyer was also so, so, so, SO good, but so hard. I had seen pictures that my family had sent, but wasn't prepared to see his bruises and scrapes and "Hello there Halo vest" up close and personal. He looked better than I expected, but small and vulnerable (sorry Sawyer, but I think that is true of anyone in the hospital). He had a lot of friends come up to visit that night, so Kristi and I hung out in the playroom and ate dinner in the cafeteria before heading to the Ronald McDonald House, which was amazing. Like for real, what a gift!
Kristi and I stayed up and talked way too long. The next day I saw my other sister Laurie and her Carson and Kelsey. More cafeteria food (don't eat the burgers), lots of laughs and lots of time spent hanging in Sawyer's room. On Monday I saw my parents. They brought Kinley, my 6 year old niece, up to spend some time with her mama who she was missing too much. Kinley and I hung out the next 2 days; there was swimming, coloring, riding little bikes around the ward, and climbing in window sills. Sawyer kept on improving day by day and on that Wednesday evening they sent him home! Seriously. Break your neck on a Tuesday and you're back at home just over a week later. I slept over at Kristi's Wednesday and Thursday and then on Friday my family arrived from Washington.
Then it was off to my mom and dad's house. Did I mention that it was unusually hot in Oregon? Well, it was. Hot. Shopping was a good past time as it involved air conditioned spaces. Sitting in front of a fan was also nice. I do not think we had one day of rain. So weird. For the next week we all just kind of hung out, moving from house to house. The grown up people all hung out and the small kids too. The teenagers were kind of in and out, with their jobs and friends and girlfriends and broken necks keeping them otherwise occupied. We had cookouts at Laurie's house a few times and the kids enjoyed their blow up (partially blown up?) pool and hot tub. Kristi's house had the trampoline and my parents place had a swing in a tree. Something for everyone.
I did feel a little bad for Tyson and Jori. They went from 4 weeks of being with kids their age (Huisman's and cousins) to being surrounded by teenagers and a 6 year old (and later a 3 and 1 year old). They were just a little lost and a little holiday-ed out by that point. My mom said next time we are in the states we need to go there first so she gets us all at our best :) I loved all the places we were at, but this was my family. I love my family. That's just normal, so I was kind of like "Sorry kids, go eat another otter pop. I'm enjoying some quality sister time now".
A super special thing was that my brother Danny and his wife Soo Hee came from Korea, and Josh and Yoojin and their girls came down from Washington and we were ALL together for several days. Lots of togetherness, including a Sunday together at the church where my dad used to be a pastor. My dad preached, Darin and I spoke about our life and ministry in South Africa and we celebrated my parents 49th anniversary with cake after church in the social hall. This is the social hall where I used to roller skate and bring my pet turtles to play. Such good memories! It was really lovely to see so many familiar faces and meet new people as well.
After church, we headed out to a house at the coast for 3 nights of family fun. It was fun. It was also super windy. That wasn't so fun as being blasted by sand is no bueno. We played games (Catch Phrase!) and did puzzles (3!) and watched movies (Pretty Woman is not so appropriate for an 11 year old, but staying up til after 1 to watch it with your aunties and a cousin is kind of a special thing, so we just did some eye covering during certain scenes). We also took a lot of walks to the beach and the teenagers took lots of drives to the coffee shop and McDonald's and Danny and Darin moaned at them like old, grumpy men. It was FUN. Seriously, it is all the little things that make a time so memorable. Like our sweet 1 year old niece Addy not wanting anything to do with any of us and her sister Kate being such a hug-a-bug. I can sit here and see them in my mind right now, stubborn and sweet, and it makes me smile.
The only one who didn't make it out for any beach time was Laurie's second oldest, Cam. He had to work. How boring. A broken down motorcycle brought Caden to us for a night, and although he might not have been too happy about this, we were all thrilled. Did I mention that there wasn't any wifi. What place doesn't have wifi? Especially in America?? However, this was beautiful as I am pretty sure the teens wouldn't have been so eager to play games and puzzle and intermingle with us much older and much younger folks if there had been better Internet access.
We left the beach on Wednesday morning and headed back to Salem. We had a cookout that night at Laurie's place. Josh, Yoojin and their sweetie pies left from there. Danny and Soo Hee left on Thursday morning. I am so glad both of my brothers and their sweet brides were able to be around at the same time we were. It had been way, way too long since we were all together.
The kids enjoyed a last swim and rock climb at the Kroc Center, Darin and I did some last minute shopping and Darin did lots of packing. We ate good food, hung out with the remaining family and just squeezed every last drop out of our time in the US. We went to sleep too late on Thursday night and had to wake up way too early on Friday morning to catch our flight. I can still see my mama waving from the porch. My dad dropped us off and we quickly found out that our early rising was in vain. Our flight out of Oregon was delayed and it threw off our whole trip. We ended up switching to another airline and sitting in the airport for hours. We were all happy that this spot did have wifi and outlets to keep everything charged.
After 2 very long flights (and lots of good movies. Have you seen Lion? You should. A United Kingdom? Do it. I wish I could think of the others. They were all so good.) we finally made it back to South Africa, a place that didn't feel quite like home. We had the no power issue, the car not working issue, the "our house is so cold" issue, and lots of missing of family and friends and all of the fun.
We have been back almost a month. The jet lag does disappear. The familiarity of place comes back again. Kids settle in to school and friends and home life. Work starts up again, relationships are rekindled. We hold onto our memories, but we don't live in them. We learn to live our life here, and it is good.