The long weekend was an ongoing gathering that paused only while we slept. Everyone arrived early to the beach, staking umbrellas, lying on blankets, passing out strawberries and cherries while the kids played and swam.
The toddler who won’t wean settled her sandy body into my lap and tugged at my bathing suit. I nursed her to sleep, which bought me an uninterrupted stretch of time to talk with my cousin Kathy, writer, teacher and all-around incredible person. We are kin and we are kindred. Conversation flows the same way it did when we were kids, walking the double cul-de-sac near her house, talking endlessly.
Beneath the shade of the umbrella, we spoke of family dynamics and the bittersweetness of returning home, where the loss of her mom is felt more acutely. We talked about writing, about being brave and being vulnerable, about navigating boundaries, about all that’s left unsaid.
Later we gathered for the annual barbecue at my dad and stepmom’s house, once my grandparents’ house. This summer marks the 70th year. I’ve lost count of the little cousins running wild in the grass.
During dinner, my cousin Eileen came over to chat and I noticed her bracelet, a leather band with a silver plate engraved with the words “Let It Go.” I touched it and said, “Everyone should have those words tacked on their body.” She smiled and unsnapped the bracelet from her wrist. I began to protest, but she stopped me, saying, “This is how it works. You wear this as long as you need to. And when you feel like you no longer need it, pass it on.”
The bracelet hasn’t left my wrist since. There is so much I hold onto. So much outside of my control. Big and small. I hold on tight. The last two days, when I look down at my wrist, I feel myself exhale. My jaw relaxes, my shoulders drop, my palms open. And I just let go.
(Post 168 of 365)