There is an ache deep in my bones this summer, the impending goodbye remains a thread that runs through my conversations. A chapter is closing on August 19th, and my heart is a tangle of dread and excitement, fear and peace, loss and hope. I am leaving my home, the place where I am known and loved and safe. How do I leave my people, the ones who have grown me and seen my seventh grade hair and sat at my graduation? Worse still, how do I leave my goddaughter June who I want to know the feeling of my hands and arms tight around her?
Red River became a place to trust, to escape, to rediscover peace.
Red River sounds like sneakers on gravel and doors opening and closing. Windows remain thrown open to the cool air, breeze sneaking in through the cracks in the walls. It's church on the river, Cathy preaching, and hymns sung in and out of tune. Red River is ice cream at the Dairy Bar, Rosie and (littlest) Emily shrieking with laughter. It's my first hike, three miles up to a lake secluded at the top of the mountain, snow still pooling in its corners. It's breathing heavy and slipping and climbing and splinters in your fingers because you're grasping at the trees to get to the top. It's rafting down the river, shouting and jumping into the river, leggings and all, because there is no time like the present to stop being boring, to stop being afraid, to stop thinking so much.
Red River is deer sneaking up to the cabins like squirrels, getting close enough that the kiddos can feed them graham crackers. It's watching home videos on Carol's iPad, crying over the voices of our grandparents, over SL's prayer before dinner, over Dot's voice. It's salty tears turning to shouts of laughter because 80s hair and baby shorts and deep southern accents that disappear over time.
It's burgers and s'mores by the river, smoke from the grill curling into the sky while chocolate drips down fingers. It's JJ skipping rocks and looking for sharks. It's Sam throwing kids into the air for stunts. It's communion at night, wine at picnic tables under an impossible stretch of stars.
Red River is the reminder that family is dear. Family is cousins and aunts and uncles standing behind you, shoving you into the future, always loving you from wherever they are. My family makes me brave, and even in the moments where DC feels too big and too far, I know that there is a soft place to land, a cloud of witnesses, a crowd of people who love me so well and will love me no matter where I am and what I do and what degrees come after my name.
Red River is voices joining together, reminding me that it is always well with my soul; a good God, a good family, a good legacy.
A good life. Wherever.