Love Infusion: Continuing Bonds with Family

Liz making cards

I sit on a wide sunny porch on a 70 degree North Carolina November day making “Save the Date” cards with Liz McFarlane, my son David’s fiancé. Liz and David are getting married in June and their wedding plans demand attention. I watch as Liz brings out piles of gorgeous thick paper, ink, and stamps. Her glossy brown hair is tied back. She looks ready to work.

“Do you like the purple or the green,” she asks, layering colors of paper in various ways.

“I like both of them,” I say. “I like them together.”

“Me, too,” says David.

Liz is a talented designer, so I’m flattered that she asks my opinion. While Liz stamps a long green and lavender flower stem on the white announcement sheets, I cut colored paper, struggling for consistency. Liz helps me get the hang of the paper cutter and laughs when I demolish another piece of her fancy paper.

David takes a few photos. Julie the cat purrs on a box of craft supplies. Little Bit, the Chihuahua, scratches at my pants leg, begging for a boost up so he can be part of the action. My dog Willow sleeps in the sun along with David and Liz’s dogs Shelly and Mandy. My heart fills with family.

“I’ll visit soon,” I told David on the phone many times during the summer. “I’ll come when I’m done with my rewrite and the book proposal.” But I wasn’t done in August or September. A rewrite demanded excavating the raw wounds of grief, and I didn’t have the heart for it.

Instead, I packed my bags, put Willow in the car at 5 am, and headed for North Carolina. Driving south, I feasted on the wide quiet beauty of the Susquehanna River and the soaring lift of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I listened to Anthony Rapp reading his memoir Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent. I arrived in time for sunset.

The next morning, I saw a crescent moon and Venus conjunction on the rosy eastern horizon. A good omen for love. Willow and I slipped out the door and crunched through oak leaves on a country lane. When we returned, David cooked a mushroom omelet. We ate on the deck in warm sunshine and considered the wedding.

“I want my wedding simple and comfortable,” Liz sighs, “but even simple takes a lot of planning.” I listen as David and Liz consider the possibilities, confident that they need nothing from me except my willingness to help.

After dark, we slip into the hot tub for a soak and watch for shooting stars. I see Cassiopeia and the dippers and make a wish.

May the love and beauty surrounding me give me the strength to finish my book.


How does your family fill you or drain you? Do you have an unfinished creative project that demands your attention? For other stories about my family, see “Engaging and Letting Go” and “Small Goodbyes.”

  1. Elaine, I’m so blessed to have you in my life! Thank you for making cards with me, for visiting, for sharing David’s and my joy, for being you. I love you very much!

  2. Sweet story! glad you got an infusion of love!

  3. Liz and I went to school together in Williamsville. Although we haven’t “spoken” in years, we are Facebook friends and “catch up” that way. She’s a great person and I am so happy she has found love. I read your story 3 times over, and I cried. Liz is a very lucky girl to have you as a mother-in-law:) Happy Holidays to your family.. including all the furry ones! Martha

    • Hi Martha,
      Thanks for your nice note. Seems to me that Liz is a pro at staying in touch with old friends. FB helps with that. I’m glad the story moved you. As you can tell, I feel lucky to have Liz in my life. Have an nice Thanksgiving. Warmly, Elaine

  4. I love your choice. Bag the stress of “get-it-done” and go hang with family. The muse is a fickle friend and until she returns, go have some fun and do good work like helping Liz and David prep for the upcoming wedding. How utterly sweet and rich.
    I love the ending of this.
    It may be the only and most important thing in life… let love and beauty give us strength for the things we want to accomplish. Great Elaine, thank you again.

    • Lauren, as you know, it’s not easy for me to back away. I will, will, will my way going nowhere fast. But I saw David and Liz, then Anthony, and now I plan to pull into the natural solitude of this dark time of the year and finish my book. I’m already making progress. Miss you, dear friend.

  5. I am so pleased you made that drive, and managed to find the desire and energy to to see Liz and David and Anthony. I am glad for the progress but mostly just that you are writing. love, janie

    • Thanks, Janie. I’ve made that drive to NC a few times a year since Vic died, and it’s always healing. Hope you had a nourishing holiday with your family.
      Love to you on the sunrise side of Seneca Lake,

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