If you were to ask me what years were the happiest, I will always reply with the years I spent in undergrad. It's not just because that was where I met Chris. The time I spent in undergrad was the first time I was able to truly relax and be myself with out fear of judgment. I was introduced to a tribe of people who were welcoming and accepting. And for the first time in my life, I felt free or less encumbered by expectations. I really had no thoughts or worries about the future. I was not constantly planning ahead. I lived in the moment before I even knew what living in the moment really meant and I met some of the best people. I have a framed photograph on my bedroom wall of Misti, John, Kirk and Talaura. The picture was taken to be used as a prop in Twilight of the Golds, a play they were all doing together, along with Chris, at USAO. I don't know how I got that picture, how it happened to fall into my hands, but it's one of my favorite things. What I love about the picture is that it was taken as a family portrait representing the family they were portraying in the play, but it transcends to the family they represented to me. In college they were a group that I watched from the edge, not quite one of them. They were the "cool kids", the group you wanted to be a part of because they always looked like they were having a good time. It would be years before I would feel fully meshed into that family. My connections would be formed in different ways throughout the four of them and then time and distance would fray some of those connections kind of thin. There's just not enough time in the day to include everyone. I'm just as guilty as the next. We have grown up and into our very own version of The Big Chill.
In spite of the time and distance, I ideally like to still see us all as that kooky family. I'm thankful for that family and every one of those connections. Strong or frayed, each one has taught me something about life and love. I'm thankful for every laugh and every tear. I am thankful for the person they helped me to be. I am thankful for their support and encouragement. Some times I feel like smacking myself in the forehead because I can't get over how blessed I've been in friendship and what a terrible job I've done at returning the favor since Chris died. I'm truly sorry for that. But I'm pretty good with yarn. It's possible I can build something to strengthen those connections. At least, I'm thankful for the chance to try.
Here's to a blessed Thankful Friday.