This week I fly to Arizona to see family I haven’t seen in fourteen years.
I will share a suite with my sister and her two girls. I will eat meals with them and my parents. I will be solo, since Michael is staying home with our kids and taking care of our humble abode.
I have bought new clothes and lipstick. I have bought travel-sized deodorant and shampoo and toothpaste. I have found the books I want to read on the plane.
I will have four days without waking to take the puppy out to pee at 5 a.m. And I won’t have to transport kids to appointments and dance and piano. I get to order food at restaurants. I get to be the cool auntie to my nieces.
November 2000: the last time I visited Arizona. We went to attend the 50th Anniversary party of my aunt and uncle. It was the first trip Michael and I took as a married couple. I liked being newlyweds watching Jan and Larry celebrate that this marriage thing can really be done. It really can.
That fall, I insisted to Michael and the rest of my family that we go. Aunt Jan and Uncle Larry for decades traveled north to Minnesota sometimes twice a year to see all of us. They attended our graduations and our wedding. I didn’t want to miss their moment.
November 2014: this time I am going to celebrate Jan’s life. She passed in early October, and her family opted to schedule her memorial service is later this week.
I keep thinking I should tone down my enthusiasm. To not be so happy to be away.
I keeping thinking it isn’t real. Jan and Larry have always been Janandlarry. I can’t speak about one without the other.
Actually, they didn’t speak without the other. When they were in the same room together, they overlapped each other’s stories. They interrupted with exclamation points and eye rolling and spoke at the same time in one continuous monologue. All of this was one of Janandlarry’s charming qualities.
I will be at my mom’s side as she figures out how to say goodbye to her sister. What a privilege it will be to witness Jan and Larry’s four kids and their spouses honor their mother and to be in the company of others who also knew her. They will know of her bright lipstick and bold laugh and of her wonderful holiday cooking. They will miss her. And so will I.