I’m all out of sorts and I can’t sleep. What day of the week is it? As I lie in bed at night, physically exhausted to the core, I toss and turn for hours. It’s like going back to he days before I stopped ski racing, when I could never fall asleep. At the time, I thought that was my default mode. For the last two years, I have slept like a baby – until now. Maybe for the first 23 years of my life I had jet lag.
Last Thursday I got up before the crack of dawn and walked through the rain to the train station. By the end of the day I was in Atlanta, Georgia, sitting on my grandfather’s back porch with my family. Last week, my grandmother passed away. The service was scheduled for Friday, and I was lucky to be able to get back to the States on such short notice. My jeans, sweater, and tall leather boots were out of place in Georgia in September – some details get lost in the shuffle when you’re in a hurry.
I don’t know what to write about my time in Atlanta, except that it was very sad to arrive and have my grandmother, who was truly a force of life, not be there. At the service on Friday, tears streamed down my face as my father described some of the outlandishly stubborn and unique things his mother had done as a mother. My uncle Chris and cousin Jessie read a poem and a story that were so well-written, so put-together, and so perfect a reflection on Abie that it stunned me; not just to sit there in the big Presbyterian church thinking about her, but to think of what an amazing family, all sixteen kids and grandkids, Abie and my wonderful grandfather Peter have created. And also, I was glad I hadn’t volunteered to speak because nothing I could have written would have matched the beauty of Chris and Jessie’s words.
After two more days with the family – it was great to see them, and great to see my parents – I had to hop on a plane and go back to Sweden. In some ways it was too short a time; despite flying across the Atlantic, I had not been able to go to my real home, or see the fall foliage that I’m missing so much. In terms of things that I would like to do if a trip home suddenly materialized, well, I didn’t do any of them.
But the time was well spent. I love my family, and we hadn’t had a reunion with the entire crew since before my youngest cousing Pablo, who is five, was born. I left satisfied, and as happy as I could be given the circumstances. Thanks, family, for helping me get home.
Now if only I could get some sleep….