Crossing Rivers

This past week I/we crossed several boundaries outside our home that felt good to us. One day we went to a clear and lovely river at the foot of the mountains about twelve miles from our home in Harrisonburg, Virginia. There, we met my sister and two of her grandsons from Baltimore. We hadn’t seen those two sweeties, a seven and a nine-year-old, for some time. The water was shallow, nestled among trees and gigantic boulders, and we all reveled in its cool comfort. One could feel the boys’ delight at being set free from the confines of their row house. No other persons invaded our spot as we waded, splashed, and ate our picnic lunch. The setting seemed safe and restful.

On the weekend, we crossed a much larger river–the Mississippi. My husband’s older brother in Minnesota has been in failing health, so we thought it imperative to visit before next summer when our family reunion, scheduled for this summer, was reset.

In preparation for the trip, I searched online for a hotel with positive comments about cleanliness. I also made sure we had masks, hand sanitizer and wipes in the car. Along the way, we used those products liberally when entering and exiting gas stations or toilets. I also packed some food, so we only had to buy something at a drive-through twice on the two-day journey northwest.

In St. Peter, Minnesota, our destination, we rented a whole house for two weeks so that we would not have to make any of my husband’s three brothers and a sister feel put upon. We usually stay with them, but all of us felt more comfortable with this arrangement for this time. One of his brothers lives right across the street from “our” house, so we sat in their screened porch for a lengthy visit last eve after visiting the brother who is challenged with various health issues. This morning, we visited with the third brother and his wife on their screened porch. They all seemed so excited to see us, even as we practiced social distancing. For a family that loves to hug, the distancing part calls for great restraint.

A month ago, several of my husband’s brothers seemed very fearful of any kind of contact, but as time went on and they saw the deteriorating condition of one brother, they changed their minds. They repeatedly asked when we were coming and tried to help us find a place to stay. We finally settled on these two weeks instead of the three months we had originally discussed. Not knowing exactly what will happen in months to come, we will feel more comfortable to return home sooner, we decided—not to mention the expense of renting.

Making decisions as well as the actual journey felt in some way like the crossing of uncertain waters. Our thoughts and plans shifted like currents in a river. We were never sure that leaving the banks of home would be absolutely safe, but we had a specific destination with well-justified reasons to make this crossing. As of now, we feel as safe, if not safer, than in our hometown. We are glad to be here, enfolded more closely with the love of family–their actual faces before us.

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