We had a nice time together. It was good just to chill w/ my Dad and get caught up on life. It's so amazing how much alike we really are. : )
Anyway, after it was over I followed him home in my car. As we drove up the driveway a Lexus SUV followed. I figured someone must have been dropping off my brother from somewhere. So I got out of the car when I hear a female voice from the car go, "Lizzy!!"
I look over and suddenly I broke into a huge grin and ran over. It was the family I baby-sat for for 7 years!! They'd known me since I was 10 and I knew all three of the family's kids since they were babies. But I hadn't seen them in person since 1996. We exchanged e-mail and cards every now and again, but otherwise I hadn't spoken with them much.
Nancy, the Mom, said, "We saw your car with the Massachusetts plates turn into your street and I knew it had to be you! So we followed you up to say hello!"
Nancy, opened her window all the way and gave me the biggest hug. I was very miserable in high school. I didn't get along with my family, I hated the school I went to and had pretty much no friends. She was always there for me and we talked about everything. Hugging her and smelling her familiar smell sent such a wave of comfort over me, I felt myself choke up.
I fought it back though and stepped back from the car to peer at the other occupants of the car. I nearly fell over.
Elizabeth, the oldest, still looked the same (which was very pretty), just, well, older. She's 15 now, same age as my brother. (I've always secretly wished they'd fall in love and get married when they're both older)
Sarah, a couple years younger, changed a LOT! Her face changed quite a bit, but she was still as beautiful as ever. In fact, I'd never seen a more "pretty family." All three kids have blond hair and blue eyes. Eric, the youngest, who's now 8 years old, wasn't in the car.
Nancy told me that they were having Sara's birthday party that evening, so I said I'd stop by on my way to Boston. I didn't want to let go of Nancy, so I gave her one last hug. I can't believe how long it had been since I'd seen her.
My parents didn't really say much about Nancy coming up to say hello. I think my parents always had a sort of jealousy / dislike toward them because I was so close with that family. In fact, there was a period of time where I spent more time at the family's house than my own. I always felt like a part of the family and they always did their best to show me how much they loved me. Plus I think my Mom could tell I'd always confided in Nancy. Nancy knows more about me than my Mom does, quite honestly. Even now.
Anyway, I hung out with my brother for most of the day, had dinner with my family, then went to visit the family.
I drove up to their enormous house. Geez! They had moved since I went away to college. I had never seen their new house before. Can we say
G O R G E O U S !!!! They even had a huge yard and inground pool.
Anyway, I walked to the back of the house and Nancy came running over, "Liiiiz!" We gave each other the biggest hug. Her husband, Peter, stood up and said, "Hey, Liz!" And also gave me a great big hug.
Nancy kept introducing me to her friends and saying, "This is our dear friend Liz. She played a huge part in raising our kids, especially Eric..."
Wow, I hadn't thought about that in a long time. The summer before I left for college, Nancy had uterin cancer. It wasn't that bad, but she had to have her uterus removed. The kids were very young and Nancy was going to have to spend a lot of time in the hospital. They were worried because they didn't want the kids to freak out and they wanted someone to take care of them who they trusted.
So they asked if I would pretty much move in with them that summer. It had to have been the most fun, challenging summer I'd ever experienced. It also confirmed for me that I wanted kids of my own someday.
It was a crazy time. Nancy's surgery was a complete success and the kids and I had a ball. Eric was only two and we shared a special bond. I am very high-energy and so is he. That hasn't changed on my end, nor has it on his.
I looked around at all the kids at the party. I knew exactly where to look for him: the pool. Sure enough, there he was. I caught my breath as I saw his beautiful face. He hadn't changed, just taller. And his body was the same, which is funny. All three of those kids are athletes. Since they were all babies they each had "6 pack" stomachs and great muscle tone. I'd never seen anything like it.
So I walked to the pool's edge and said, "Hey, Eric...!"
Nancy goes, "I bet he remembers you..."
Eric turned around and immediately he broke into a huge grin and came over. I reached down, pulled him out of the pool, gave him the biggest hug (he hugged me just as hard), picked him up, swung him around, and hugged him again. He laughed the whole time. My eyes filled with tears. I couldn't believe that it's been this long since I'd hugged that kid.
Then I took Eric to the pool's edge, switched my grip on him and said, "You ready to go in??"
He grinned and said, "Yeah!"
I threw him in and he popped right back up, laughing.
Nancy then said, "You guys were really close. You can see it in his face, he really remembers. That was a tough summer for him."
It really was. He knew something was wrong, but didn't understand. There were many nights I'd spent crammed into one of the kid's beds with all three of them. Eric usually would sleep on top of me, holding tight, and Sara and Elizabeth would be on either side, their arms linked through mine or holding my hand.
So I hung out for a couple hours, chatted with mostly Nancy, and even came out to her. She said she had kinda figured it out and smiled. I think she knew a long time ago. Too bad everyone else did, but I didn't. She's so awesome. I could tell it didn't phase her one bit.
Finally I ended up leaving around 9:00. It was so hard to go! I'm probably going back a week from Tuesday to spend the day with her. We have a lot to catch up on.
I got ready to leave and Eric swam to the pool's edge, said, "Bye, Lizzy," and gave me a kiss good-bye. As I backed down the driveway, the tears streamed down my face.
I immediately flashed back to early September, 1994 as I finished loading my stuff for college in the back of my parents' minivan. The family came up to say good-bye.
I hugged and kissed each of them. This was the hardest thing, I think, about having left home. I was ready to go, but I knew I was leaving everything behind. I knew deep down that I wasn't going to come home very much. I was going to miss watching some very important people grow up and change. This included the family and my little brother.
Nancy gave me the longest hug. "We love you, Liz. We're going to miss you. You've done a lot for us. You're a part of the family."
I could barely speak. I got in the car, we backed down the driveway, and I looked back to see a lot of people waving. I had baby-sat for a total of 14 familes in my neighborhood. But this family was the closest to my heart and had the biggest impact on my life.
As I turned to face forward again, I quietly cried. And it was for a number of reasons: leaving them behind, the scarieness of the new life I was beginning, and the sudden feeling of loneliness and being lost that was starting to wave over me.
Last night I cried for different reasons: To have seen what beautiful young people they were becoming, to know that they still loved me as much now as they did then, and because I hadn't realized just how much I missed them.
Okay... back to work... I'm starting to cry now. : )