Our time spent there is difficult to sum up. We were unsure of how to comfort our grieving sister-in-law and her kids and my Mother-in-Law and her grown kids; finding the right words was pretty much impossible. Instead, we just tried to help out in any way we could. The family's close friends overdid themselves by bringing over nightly meals (to feed the 20 of us) and staying for comfort and conversation until the wee hours. It was kindness and generosity in action; people brought food, toilet paper, paper towels, disposable plates and utensils, giant gift baskets, fruit baskets, edible arrangements and more. While funeral flowers were ordered and an obituary and eulogy were drafted, we tried to focus on the beauty and light of my brother-in-law's life. We pored through thousands of photos to create several slideshows highlighting the joy, love and laughter he brought to family and friends during his short time on earth. The cousins played games with each other and at times, it almost seemed like we were just on a regular family trip. I played frisbee in the rain with my ten year old nephew, and we talked about sports and proper batting stances, anything to take his mind off his dad.
On Thanksgiving, we found things to be thankful for. The cousins made apple turkeys and enjoyed creating and being silly and eating their crafts.
My sister-in-law's father graciously included us in their Thanksgiving meal that night; they did everything they could to make us feel comfortable and welcome in their home.
|first apple turkey|
|baby J is crawling away,but the rest are showing off their work!|
Life is short, and attending a wake and funeral of someone who was much too young to leave us made that abundantly clear. Things can change in a minute; and you're left with the "before" and "after." My prayers for my brother-in-law's family will never stop. It's possible they will find a "new normal," but now they are grieving and trying to come to terms with what happened. They will never "get over" what happened, but they may find some peace and comfort in the way he touched their lives and the memories he left.
It's hard to transition back to normal, but life goes on. We are back in Chicago and have been thrown right into the bustling holiday season. Our attitude is to make the most of it; as my husband said "I'm going to Christmas the shit out of this year." You never know when it might be the last. When we returned home, we made a delicious meal of mussels and bread. Wine too. It was a quiet night, but we took comfort in the quiet and low key conversation.
|mussels / wine|
Sunday night we cooked again, making veal chops with brussels sprouts and pearl onions. This one was a huge winner, and the spicy cab sauv was the perfect warming complement.
|veal chop dinner|
I should mention that our day time weekend activities included visiting the big Christmas tree in Millennium Park, seeing the Christkindle Market downtown, some early holiday shopping, and ice skating. Sunday gave us perfect winter weather, so it was great to take advantage and even play a bit outside. I am eternally grateful for my husband and these two shining stars..
|lots to be thankful for|