Max and  Zach fishing off the dock last year in Maine

Max and Zach fishing off the dock last year in Maine

Tomorrow Max and I are headed on a great adventure.

We are off to cabin #2 on a Woods Pond in Bridgton, Maine.  We will be joined by a handful of my cousins on my mother’s side and their kids.  The family will take over almost all of the ten cabins that surround Woods Pond.  There is only one small pay phone there–somewhere between cabin #4 and #5 I think.  Near the boat house perhaps.  I never used it.  There is no internet, and barely any cell phone coverage.  At night it is so pitch black that you can actually see the stars.  During the day you might see a bald eagle go fishing..

Last year was our first year “at the lake” although my cousins have been going for years.  It was nothing short of pure bliss.  I would wake at sunrise and sit on my front porch with my tea and my book watching Kevin come back from his morning walk or Eileen to float in on her kayak.  Max would wake in the morning and skip out of the house immediately finding an “uncle” (read: grown cousin) to take him fishing or one of his cousins–perhaps 12 year old Zach or the teenage Al and Chris to take him out in a boat. Dinners were communal, and delicous and often followed by a bon fire in a huge outdoor firepit.    I sat in an adirondack chair almost all day, reading, knitting, catching up with the cousins.  Drinking in calm and relaxation and day after day of perfect sunshine. 

Our crazy world with its swirling chaos melted away.  There was only peace punctuated by the sound of wooden screen doors banging as little children ran in between the cabins or a cousin brought a cool drink out to share. 

I needed this trip last year.  I had been doing the single mom thing for 15 months and was feeling overwhelmed, tired and a little bit a failure.  I need to sink into love.  But was nervous.  Aside from Eileen, I had really lost touch with many of my cousins.  We hadn’t talked in ages.  We didn’t know each other anymore.  No matter how hard I tried all my memories of connecting with this crowd floated up from decades past.  It had been a long long time. 

I knew I didn’t have enough energy to put on a good face.  I feared they would meet me at my worst.

But fortunately good faces aren’t required in our family. 

From the minute we pulled in my cousins accepted that I just was–asked nothing from Max and I other than our presence.  Reconnection came almost instantly and the love that was woven during childhood, the adoration I had for my big cousins, the fondness I had for the younger ones, it all came flooding back to me as though it was summer 1978.  It rose up in me like a song I had sung years ago and upon hearing again knew all the words–but with a twist.  They had all grown up into such amazing, brave and interesting people. 

Eileen, Lisa, Matthew, Emily and Max on our dock

Eileen, Lisa, Matthew, Emily and Max on our dock

But what was even better was watching Max discover the joy of a big huge crazy family.  We have been such a small unit of 2 down here in Maryland.  Last year with each fishing trip, each frisbee throw, each search for minnows and dragonflies he was weaving his own blanket of connectedness and family.    I breathed a sigh of relief.  He will have others who call him family, even long after I am gone.  I saw it with my own eyes.

Searching for minnows at the waters edge

Searching for minnows at the waters edge

By the end of the week, it pained me to say goodbye to my long lost loved ones now found.  I knew that the distance and the craziness of all our lives would take over.  We made lots of ambitous plans on how we would get together–meet somewhere between New England and Maryland–let the kids play, pick up where we all left off.  But I think we all really knew it would likely not happen.  So just in case we all just immediately booked another week at the lake in advance.  I can’t believe it is already here.

Its true I haven’t seen any of them (accept Eileen- once- last fall) since we pulled out of the woods and hit the highway.  But last week I had a message on my cell phone from Kevin.  “Are you still coming?” he asked the playfulness of a 9 year old in his voice.   I know he is just dying to dunk me in a kayak. 

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