Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Visitors

They came from Atherton California, Reno, Nevada,  Phoenix Arizona, Birmingham Alabama, Baltimore Maryland, Washington DC, Westfield New Jersey, Reston Virginia, Westbury Connecticut,  Boston Massachussetts, and Portland Oregon. Ostensibly they came to row, an annual rowing reunion of the class of '71, of which Melanoma Man is a member. The one thing I had in common with them was Melanoma Man.

The rowing reunions started in 2002 after Steve's funeral. Many hadn't seen each other in the 31 years between college graduation and Steve's death. So it was decided then and there that they would meet annually. Due to raising children and working I had not attended the rowing reunions previously, but Melanoma Man was quite faithful in his attendance.

This year they came to us in Florida. They tried to come last year, but Melanoma Man discouraged them saying, "you are just choosing Florida BECAUSE OF THE CANCER." Seems a good enough reason to me. This year he acquiesced and it was good. I was intimidated by the idea of it all, by the idea of the wives, by the idea of how my life and specifically my living room might measure up to theirs. Me and my leaky roofed rental house, complete with tarp and sandbags to keep the rain from coming in. Growing up I was the behind the scenes support team for many events hosted by my Mom and Dad. They were great entertainers, so that backdrop loomed in my head as well. Enough is what it all comes down to with me. Am I enough. On my own the answer I usually come up with is No.

MM spent Monday through Thursday shopping and cooking. I tried to catch up on the hopeless task that is housekeeping, without being grumpy, angry or perfectionistic. I got home from work Thursday night, entering our house as I always do through our ping pong, pantry garage, laundry room. The front door has been broken for three years, so the only way in the front of the house is via "le garage." I glanced into our living and saw the IV pole, still up from Melanoma Man's infusion earlier in the day.

In the kitchen nine people plus my three people greeted me. I had met Kathy & Mike, John & CJ, Bruce, Don 13 years ago. Skip, Linda, Karen were new. I chattered nervously, pushing worry away, trying to remaining open and awake to all the people. I had seen a post on Pinterest earlier in the week that said simply, " Let's just be who we really are." Sounds simple, but still hard for this hostess with an IV pole in her living room. Gwen and Ron arrived around 7:30, straight from the airport.

Mike and Kathy had taken charge of renting two beach houses. Mac had cooked Thursday night's dinner. Karen cooked Friday night's dinner. Oz and Vicki had dinner catered Saturday at one of the beach houses. Friday Karl & Terry, Rob & Nancy, Bob and Jay arrived. Saturday Vicki and Oz arrived. 

 On Saturday night Oz presented a toast to me and Melanoma Man with wishes that we'll get to go around the board again and again. Vicki presented us with a corresponding Monopoly themed mug. I knew that they understood how hard this journey has been and will continue to be. They did not avert their eyes but took us just as we imperfectly are. I didn't know most of them at the start of the weekend.  I came to feel like these are my people by the end. That sense of community and love surrounded us. 

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