As I sit here, staring at my computer, I can’t bring myself to write about hiking in Zion National Park. I don’t really feel like editing my photos of the strikingly beautiful landscape in Light Room, either. My heart is just not in it. The only thing I can focus on right now is life: love and loss, family: death and rebirth, and with all of that- the inevitable questioning of faith.
You see, two years ago today (“yesterday”- as you read this), my mother lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. I’ve written about this a lot: how my world crumbled, and my belief system shattered in to a million tiny pieces. I turned to travel for therapy (stay tuned for my guest post on The Planet D), and I struggled to get on with life. Now, I find myself at a new crossroads.
Resurrecting Thanksgiving family tradition
Last week, my family celebrated our traditional Thanksgiving feast at my childhood home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There were 43 of us, in total- all from my mom’s side of the family. Every family brought about three or four dishes, which turned in to the ultimate potluck. We had: two cornbread dressings, two turkeys, a roast, a ham, three dirty rice dressings, an oyster dressing, a green bean casserole, spinach madeline, carrot soufflé, two sweet potato casseroles, a crab and artichoke casserole, a baked breaded brussel sprout dish, potato salad, cole slaw, and about seven different deserts, including my favorites: pecan and lemon icebox pies. Apologies for the food digression. You know that I 1) love food and 2) love to talk about food in the context of cultures and traditions… So there.
Back to the family aspect of that day. This tradition of gathering all of my mom’s cousins and their families started long ago. Unless we were traveling somewhere on a family vacation, we always invited the family to feast at our house. We had not had our Thanksgiving crew over since before Mom became ill. It has been three years. My siblings and I were determined to revive the tradition and keep it steady-going. It’s especially important now, more than ever, for us to maintain that connection to family…..to Mom.
The next generation
It was really neat that I was able to announce some happy news to all of my extended family last week- in person, which I am also sharing for the first time publicly- to you right now… I’m going to be a mom! Alan and I are having a baby! I’m 13 weeks today, and I just had my third ultrasound. So far so good! Here’s a snap shot of the little alien- future traveler – baby:
I have to admit that this news was bitter sweet to receive. We couldn’t be happier, as we’ve always wanted children. It is a tough pill to swallow that I’ll be jumping in to motherhood without my mom by my side, though. I always envisioned Peg tickling her grandchildren while making that weird duck noise, then laughing her gregarious, infectious laugh when they did something ridiculously cute and funny. I pictured walks with the babes, Mom giving me advice (only after I pressed her- she would never offer it unsolicited. She was way too chill and laid back to impose. Man, I miss that!) Her encouraging and positive words would get me through the roughest times, as she would assure me that it will all be OK in the end. I had dreams- of four generations of Lewis women- sitting around, laughing, loving, crying….. It never occurred to me that it could be any other way. But it will be.
These photos were taken from family trips to The Bahamas and Mexico, where Dad often kept his boat, and we would tag along.
So on this – day of my mom’s death, three days before her birthday (she would be 61 on December 7th) and during these holiday times of family gathering, I cautiously embrace love, life and new beginnings. I take the painful yet joyous step in to the next phase of my life. Maybe it’s not how I thought it would be, but then again, life rarely is, is it?
And what does this mean for traveling and blogging? I foresee a similar model to the one my parents used. Occasional getaways away from children and fairly frequent travel with the kids (Dad’s already broached the idea of a family trip to the French countryside next fall! With babies in tow- mine and my brother Cullen’s- renting a chateau??? Sounds great to me!).
This blog’s focus may evolve, as I do, although I don’t foresee a complete conversion into “Mommy Travel Blog” status. I will be greatly relying on my friends with family travel blogs’ advice. Lance, Mara, Keryn, Kara– watch out! I’ll be bombarding y’all with questions!
So, here’s to hope, holidays, love and family….. and babies!! (Alan’s sister and my brother’s wife are due any day now! Cousins!)