The next event on Friday evening was the Welcome Reception. I was able to spend some time with my very good friend Cara who I've been friends with for over twelve years. I've known Cara since about the time Matt and I started planning our wedding. In October of 2012, her husband and six year old son were killed in a car accident, and by a true miracle, their daughter Pearl survived. Cara wasn't in the vehicle... It's painful to think that my friend has to endure this journey, and in even more ways than I can understand. I'm thankful that I was able to introduce her to Soaring Spirits and Camp Widow where she could be among others who understand, and possibly connect with potential lifelong friends as I have.
At the time of Cara's loss, I had just moved to Delaware, which put me in a much better location where I was able to take a few road trips out to be with her and sweet little Pearly. The kids and I were a welcome distraction to them, and it made me feel good to have something to offer. Since then, I've moved back to Buffalo, and Cara and Pearl have found their place in Seattle where they are among more family, and are thriving. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to spend some long-overdue time with Cara at Camp, and even be her roomie!
My other roomie was my friend Abigail Carter, who is a very talented writer. She has written The Alchemy of Loss, and another new release called Remember the Moon. What's really cool is that Abby and Cara BOTH live in Seattle!
During the course of the evening, I heard from my friend Karin (who is also my neighbor - very awesome) that my next door neighbor had driven into the house across the street from ours. So much drama that I was happy to have missed, but holy crap! Everyone was okay, but it could have really been tragic.
Saturday morning was Michele's keynote speech, and as I was walking in there, I thought maybe this would be the year that she doesn't bring me to tears. Somehow, again, she managed to broach a topic that touched me so deeply that I before I even realized it, tears were streaming down my face. Fortunately there is always more laughter than tears, and always so much to learn. Love that lady!
Wonderful times with old and new friends, opportunities to help others, learning and teaching moments, gorgeous weather, and tons of fun. This is what it's all about, and why I keep coming back year after year.
I picked up the kids from Aunt Brandi's house, and then we drove up to LA. Our first stop, my friend and former next door neighbor's house. Probably THE best next door neighbor EVER. Living next door to her was wonderful. She had an awesome dinner prepared for us, and my brother met us there. It's always a little strange to look at the house next door and think we lived there for two whole years... Makes me a bit "homesick" for our time in California (and the killer view of the San Gabriel mountains from our front yard), but I'm still thankful to be living back in WNY.
The next day, we went to my brother's and spent the rest of our time with him and his beautiful kids. My very favorite thing to do there is after everyone goes to bed, I get to hang out with my big brother and talk each other's ears off, finally getting a chance to catch up in person. I've so missed our in-person visits that we were so lucky to have had when I was living there. He hosted a party for us that Sydney and I pretty much missed, due to her becoming violently ill from overdosing on the delicious elderberries that grow in his Garden of Eden of a back yard... Poor baby girl. She recovered, and we enjoyed the rest of our visit by having lots of beach time, and more delicious food.
It's hard to believe that after looking so forward to our west coast trip that it's already here and gone! Time seems to have been flying at an unprecedented rate, hasn't it? The year is more than half over! But we sure have been making some great memories, and I'm so very grateful. =)