Spring Break was not a "break" for the Namenye family.
Leo took his first big trip home to Michigan to meet all the hundreds of family members he is now related to. Traveling used to be a sort of glamorous event, and it was fun packing snacks and taking selfies in airports and eating food at our parents' houses. Flying with an infant kid is certainly no joke of a feat: I consider myself more of a strategic packer than ever before, and there is nothing like a solo flight to make you achingly grateful for your spouse's presence.
Leo was introduced to aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins (and first cousins once removed), great-grandmothers, and dear friends.
At home for the first time since last July, I still feel the absence of my dad in a way that pinches my soul a bit when I sit drinking coffee at my kitchen table, remembering all those beautiful, everyday conversations I took for granted. I found myself waiting for him to come and open the front door again, home from another day at work. Seeing the joy that Leo brought to every one of my family members made me smile because I know that my dad is beaming with pride at my little kid, even though I cannot see it in front of my face. I think of how my dad ran around the hotel telling everyone that he was a grandpa, how he felt little Leo kick, and how my ultrasound picture was placed in his dear old hands when I looked on him for the last time in the narthex of St. Pat's.
The thought of his presence lingering and alive still made visiting these beautiful people all the more worth it. Every laugh and every homemade meal and every joke and every hug seems to radiate with a precious unrepeatability, with a feeling of wanting to sink into these moments.
Friends, tell your family and friends every day that you love them, you cherish them, you forgive them. Repair wounds and forgive quickly. Savor the boring old times at home, the ordinary company of your brothers and sisters. The culture of home is the presence of love.