Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The past beats inside me like a second heart.

Grandma's front door.
This past weekend was filled with violence and loss and overwhelming sadness. I don't understand how people can be so cruel and hateful. It just doesn't make sense to me.

In a world where such tragedies happen far too often, I sometimes wonder if I would be better off hearing about them as a child. As children, we didn't truly understand what all of these things meant. We didn't understand hate or violence or cruelty or even death. We understood kindness and friends and acceptance. I wish I still lived in a world where I thought everyone believed in those things, practiced those things, lived those things.

I was lucky to have an amazing childhood, to grow up in a wonderful home with a loving family. I have so many great memories of growing up. Some of my favorite and fondest memories happened at my grandma's house. I spent a lot of time there, whether it was a weekend here or there or a summer trip or a Christmas. 

My grandma's house, her town, is easily one of my favorite places in the world. It's my true home away from home. And no matter how long I go without visiting, it always feels just like it did when I was little. 

I spent this past weekend at my grandma's, and it was one of the best weekends I've had in a while. I hadn't been there in about a year, so I was so excited to go. My dad and my uncles were going to build Grandma a new deck, my aunt was going to paint her front door, and my mom and I were there for entertainment. 

Not only was the weekend great because I spent it at Grandma's, but it was great because I spent it with family. They are some of my favorite people in the world, the people who helped shape who I am, the people who are always there for me, encouraging me, inspiring me. We spent the weekend laughing and telling stories and sharing memories. 

On Saturday night, while we were having dinner in the dining room, I looked around the table and had a realization.

"How did all of us ever fit around this table all together at Thanksgiving and Christmas? It seems so small now."

And it did. I suddenly felt so old, so grown up, and I was sad that my childhood was somehow over in that instant. Some of those favorite memories I have at Grandma's include holiday dinners gathered around the table with aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. We all squeezed in, dragged in extra chairs, and sat there together for hours. Because I was the youngest, I got to share a bench at the head of the table with my grandpa. Gosh, how I miss him. I miss him every day. It breaks my heart that I don't get to know him now. I miss him so much.

But being back in that house, in that town this weekend brought back all of those amazing memories of growing up. 

driving the golf cart with Grandpa ~ swimming at the pool ~ going to the cafe ~ sitting on the deck ~ playing in the park ~ getting ice cream at the drive in ~ playing with dolls in the basement ~ baking cookies with Grandma ~ having tea parties ~ eating popsicles with Grandpa ~ sleeping in that upstairs bedroom ~ playing the train game ~ going to the library ~ grocery shopping with Grandma 

I miss all of it. I miss being a kid and going to Grandma's and just having fun and being carefree. But I'm so glad that I grew up with all of that. Those experience, this family, made me who I am today, and I'll hold onto those memories forever.

While a child's innocence and kindness and acceptance are beautiful, I've experienced that, and I've grown up. Now I'm at the age in my life where I have a voice to use. When injustices and cruelties like this happen, I have a voice to use to speak out with. I have a voice, and others aren't so lucky. I want to use my voice to promote kindness and acceptance. And that's what I'm going to do. Be kind. 

What are your favorite childhood memories? When's the last time you went back to one of your favorite places in the world?

{My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the tragedy in Orlando. #PrayForOrlando}

Lots of love,

John Banville, "The Sea"