I'm so glad I was able to go to Texas that same day we found out. I'm so glad I have a wonderful husband who supported me in it, a mother-in-law who flew to Chicago to take care of my kids so I could spend all the time I needed and for friends and family who shared their love with us as we wrapped our heads around this tragedy and got our feet back on the ground.
After a week or so of someone always being sad and who ever wasn't sad at the moment comforting them and LOTS of ice cream (curse the tainted Blue Bell drama), we were mostly able to enjoy the rest of time together, making good memories and strengthening our family.
James's son Reagan and I:
James's daughter Annabelle and I:
Me and my siblings (minus our sweet brothers James and Robert). So incredibly grateful for big families!
One project (that actually got finished) that Josh and I did while we were in Texas was build a wall-to-wall shelf in the garage. Josh did most of the work but it was so fun working with him. He showed me how to do everything (including the power saw) and explained each step. He's a really nice brother. I like him a lot. It was SO hot in the garage while we worked that we had to take a lot of breaks and my favorite breaks were shaved ice. Mmmmm.
The finished shelf! Once we finished it, we spent the evening organizing and throwing away all the junk. My least favorite part-- finding a HUGE cockroach! Texas!!!
We cleaned out my dad's old (OLD) tool cabinet and among the rusted nails, dirt, deteriorating plastic scraps, and a very much alive tree frog (eek), I found this picture of 5 year-old me:
Once afternoon we went to the Strand in Galveston. (It's way smaller than I remember as a child btw.) This picture is of my mom and Josh. Shortly after, she made a commitment to go on a cruise with us all in a couple years. I'm holding her to that. (She's scared to death of cruising.)
Classic mom and dad:
After walking the Strand we went to dinner at Salt Grass.
This is my pal Joshua and I on the beach after dinner. The air is so salty there! So much different than the water here. I know why but I grew up in Texas and was still blown away by the smell this time. I'll stick with fresh water. And, I'll stick with this kid. He's pretty awesome.
My dad was having a birthday the week after I would have left so we surprised him with an early birthday celebration. We snuck up to his work and filled his car with 64 balloons. I wish I could have seen his reaction. He was very happy to find the box cutter Josh tied to his mirror. Not only was it handy to make his car drivable again, he had a blast popping all the balloons. (64 going on 12)
Birthday boy (still holding his box cutter)!
It was a good trip. I was able to figure out my emotions, deal with the grief and make new memories. I'm glad I was able to spend 2 weeks in Texas. I'm even more grateful I was able to come home to a cute and fun family back in Chicago. I missed them. My sweet Wenders at dinner the night I got back:
Crazy Janie and I:
It is so easy to take advantage of family. So easy to get caught up in your own life and your own world. It's only when tragedy takes one of them away that we realize how important they all are. Keep family close. Only speak kind words. Make those relationships strong and lasting. Don't have regrets.
Miss you James.