There were a few minutes during our housewarming party over Memorial Day weekend when I found a quiet space in the corner of our yard and watched the images of my family pass gently before my eyes.
As I rested for a bit my mind kept conjuring up the idea of what this scene would have looked like without me.
Would it have even have happened at all? I am sure my family would have come to celebrate with my wife on the purchase of a new home, even if I had never made it out of surgery alive. The nephews would have still been running around like little lunatics while my curious nieces would have been following butterflies and sniffing flowers while the adults chatted, prepared the food and engaged in an intense version of whiffle ball home run derby.
Alas, it would have been different. Of course it would be different. And when the party was over my beautiful wife would have been left to wash the dishes alone, and continue on with her life without me. As I sat back on the hammock and watched the scene I imagined my spirit watching over the party, bouncing from person to person trying to hug them only to run right through them like ghosts do in movies. And when the day turned toward night I watched as my wife instinctively reached for me before falling asleep, only to swipe at memory instead of a man.
My eyes welled up, and a touch of anger entered my space as I once again realized how close I was to losing all of these people. I was returned to reality by the touch of my nephew’s hand on my knee, his right arm outstretched pointing to something I could not see, and just like that, I was back.
As Carter walked me to a rope swing on the other end of the property and encouraged me to swing from it like only a three year old could, I was present, grounded in the reality of a loving family and amazing friends. And just as I was at Vassar Brothers Hospital, I was surrounded with three generations of blood giving me all the strength I could ever need.
The house as a structure can also ground a person. There is the upkeep it needs and the pride that builds by making your small piece of the planet better than when you stumbled upon it. There are bills to pay and things to fix, and every one of those actions grounds us to a place, a place not only on a map, but a place in time, and that is what most of us are looking for. A place to return to. A place to feel safe in. A center. A place to laugh, to cry and to make memories.
After being given a solid foundation by this family for the first half of my life, I slowly chipped away at that foundation for the second half. Bad lifestyle choices took its toll until eventually the foundation could not support the weight I was placing upon it. Then, it crumbled. Now, it is being rebuilt, stronger than it was before.
After Carter and I swung on the rope, how I got blisters and he didn’t I will never understand, we returned to the party to do the things families do on special occasions, and when it was time for the weekend to end and return to the task of my every day existence, I started the day with my wife in a place so perfectly suited for us.
It’s not the ground that keeps you grounded. It is what you place on that ground. The home you build, the food you grow, the relationships you curate, and the decisions you make that give you a ground worthy of walking on.
To create a new life, new dreams and hopes, to experience triumphs and trials from a ground stepped in history and with stories as old as time is how we live, and how we will grow and how my heart will heal.
We are lucky we found this place together, and each day I rise and get to walk these grounds I feel a sense of overwhelming joy and anticipation to see what we can grow from the ground up. And when the day is done I rest easy knowing that when my wife reaches for me in the middle of the night she will be able to wrap her hands around me, and not just a memory.