as the laughter settled

Easter Weekend 2019.

A smaller gathering than we’re used to, less people, less moving around. Even less food. Being able to fit on one normal sized dining table, rather than having to squish together and add extra bits to accompany all the family members. Of having a routine of being able to pass the potatoes, the broccoli, rather than everyone scrambling over each other to get their share.

But it was the small moments of a family who have accustomed themselves to what they share and what they have lost, revelling in what we still have together. I stood in the kitchen to catch a breath after falling into a food coma and having to unbutton my jeans. As I stole a moment for myself, a burst of laughter rumbled from the room next door as another inside joke was pocketed for everyone for the future. A smile escaped from my lips as all I could feel was this incredible burst of positive energy surrounding people who had fought for a small amount of normalcy.

And it was after, in the quiet moments, as everyone fell back into their own thoughts and their own food comas, sharing a bottle of wine and passing around a basket of chocolate.
I noticed smiles on each and every face, but most importantly, contentment. A happiness in the moment and in their current lives. As — after years of suffering, as we have each had our issues to battle in the confines of our mind, as we have always come back to each other — it was a moment where everyone was at peace.

It was, as everyone had quietened down, that particular moment of silence after a large bout of laughter – as happiness settles down on everyone’s shoulders – that I felt something else on my shoulder.

It was a hand, and a warmth on the side of my face as if it was a kiss. A whisper in my ear that said, “This is all I ever wanted.”

Being able to see her children, all of them now adults; who over time, have only grown closer together. Who have fallen into step in their lives, side by side.

I wrote the words a while ago, A family so accustomed to goodbyes. As we said it yet again, to another person in our world; as we had to learn to restart, to shift what we considered our dynamics. To pause for a moment as it brought back feelings of old and learn to walk upside down on our already flipped world.

But as the feeling of the hand passed, the warmth stayed with me. As we may have become a family accustomed to goodbyes, but we have become so perfectly gifted at hello’s. At allowing new memories to join the old, as revelling in our old memories together as it only glues our bond stronger together.

And as the laughter settles, and the happiness falls on each person’s shoulder, she is there. Beside us all. Reminding us that the simplicity of us enjoying each other’s company, of continuing in life together, is all she ever wanted.

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