Just a thought… If I could give you any gift, I’d give you love and laughter, A peaceful heart, a special dream and joy forever after. [Author unknown]
Happy JULIO Day! It’s July 10 (Jul 10, thus “Julio”) and although it hasn’t caught on like MARIO day (Mar 10 – you guessed it) who knows? Maybe it will – or has done in countries where Julio is a more common name than here in the Great White North. Or maybe I’m the only person in the world crazy enough to look at numbers and letters and come up with words. That’s how this brain of mine works, for better or for worse!
More importantly than any JULIO, this is a special day for us because one Brooke Russell Shirakawa is marking her 26th birthday. I’m using this space to tell you a little more about our “daughter-in-law” Brooke than you already know because it’s her day. And with a baby arriving in early October (another Libra like Colin and me – yay!) she’ll have little time to soak up moments that are just for her. And goodness knows she deserves them, which is why we do spa days when I get to Ottawa.
I mention in my book Rob’s and my vast appreciation for Brooke. She came into Phil’s and Colin’s lives when it seemed that the sun would never shine on this tightly-knit duo again. But there she was. A blend of strength and vulnerability, confidence and questioning, she has brought joy, love and stability into all of our lives.
I love the conversations we have that go for hours as Brooke shares what’s in her heart and listens to what’s in mine. She’s put up with the crazier aspects of my life (so much tamer than it used to be, but still very public) as she read comments on Facebook about her pregnancy and had to smile through suggestions that her own baby bear the name or middle name of her husband’s late first wife, our Lauren. I mean, how much shadow does a gal have to step out of, she must have wondered. And I agreed.
Brooke has come to a place of understanding the vast kindness that people have shared towards our little family and that it now includes her. It’s not a situation everyone understands, but still, she tries and I appreciate that.
She’s had to learn to adapt to the often not-so-gentle dance of family dynamics as her marriage expands to not the usual two families and sets of parents, but three (which, thankfully, includes us). And as always, she adapts.
Now, here she is ready to add to their own little trio – with a baby girl due in two-and-a-half months. I know she’ll be a great momma to the sweet pea who’s arriving in a bit; she’s already proven that again and again with Colin. She’s patient and funny, strict but soft. Thanks to both of his parents, Colin is learning manners and boundaries, but always the rules are imbedded in logic and a sense that the child understands what it is that’s being asked of him, and why. They’re not “those” parents who let their child run wild or act out. And every Sunday we get to spend FaceTime with Colin, all the while catching up with Brooke.
When people, such as the women I spoke with in a FaceTime book club this past Monday, mention how they marvel at my relationship with Brooke, I give her all of the credit. She had to open her heart – mine had already been blown open by grief – and accept this woman who might, by logic, resent her being there. Nothing was further from the truth, despite little voices whispering in her ear that that would be the case. Luckily, she and I found out who each other really was (thanks in part, ironically, to talking about the NBC show This is Us) and we’ve grown from there.
How lucky Rob and I are to have this young woman in our lives! I hope we tell her often enough, but really, is there such a thing?
Take good care and enjoy this Wednesday. Going to combine babies and lavender and…goats here tomorrow. Talk to you then!