I can’t believe it. After living in Italy for three years, my first visit to the United States is drawing to a close. This trip back home again to Indiana: the state where I was born, grew up and where my mom and step-dad still live has just one full day left.
I landed on American soil on July 18. With more than a month ahead, in addition to feting with my family, I thought I had plenty of time to reconnect with everyone. I had so many plans!
Scotty, Lulu and I drove up to northwest Indiana to visit my college-buddy-like-a-brother Sam Wakim and his family for a combined dentist and friendly visit.
I zipped over to La Porte, the town where I was born, and toured Pine Lake where I spent happy summers with family, and peeked at the house Grandpa and Grannie Raven had built and lived in forever.
I had dinner with my fire-chief cousin and his family.
I met again with Eric Schneller, the first friend I ever made at Indiana University when I first sat next to him in my freshman biology class. I had dinner with ADPi sorority sisters Beth, Dottie and Elizabeth. We moved beyond the shallow ties of youthful sisterhood to wiser bonds forged through surviving the unexpected twists and painful turns real life often deals. We are still hanging in there, but I am not kidding when I say we laughed and we cried.
I had dinner with a couple of close youth group friends, Anita and Curt, who got married shortly after high school. They openly shared the incredible ups and downs that tried and ultimately strengthened their enduring union.
And speaking of my school days, I had dearly hoped to travel to Randolph County to the tiny town of Farmland to visit with the friends who were instrumental in creating the many colorful memories I have of my childhood. We’ve kept up virtually on Facebook, and I wanted to reunite with them in person.
But the weeks flew by and I didn’t make it happen.
I also didn’t get a chance to reconnect with my cousin Debbie and some other people I had envisioned seeing.
But I did get to hug a lot of my immediate family including Mom, Jerry, Andrea, Tony, Sophia, Brad, Jayson, Patience, Helena, Sam, Celeste and my ninety-nine-and-a-half-year-young Aunt Anita aka “Neatie.”
We have had boat trips on the lake.
We have had bonfires. We have had dinner parties. We have had cake, cookies and Mom’s famous chocolate chip coffeecake. Have I mentioned the mountains of ice cream?
Did I mention that even though Lulu has already eaten her weight in delectable Italian gelato, one of her new favorite places in the world is Dairy Queen? Okay, we have had too much eating, I must say.
But we simply have not had enough time to do everything I hoped.
To everyone I saw, I love you and am so glad we were able to see each other again. To everyone I didn’t get a chance to see. I am sorry I missed you. I do miss you. Please come to see us in Ireland.
Tonight, as Lulu and I looked out across my parents’ backyard on Morse Lake, the setting sun was shimmering on the water.
“It looks like diamonds. Real ones,” Lulu said.
“Yes, Lulu,” I replied, reflecting on the memories of the past four weeks. Although I didn’t get to see and do every single thing I had hoped to when I first arrived, the glow of my time back here in Indiana has been shiny and priceless just the same. Like diamonds. Real ones.
Love to you, no matter where you are!
P.S. How was your summer? Did you spend it with family? Friends? What’s in store for September? Let me know!