Last weekend Gracie and I went to Delaware to visit Hannah, Hilary, Terence, and to meet baby Margaret. It was a lovely visit. Saturday was just girls (Terence got home late that night) and we just puttered. We hung around at the house, Hannah and Grace played like the dear cousin friends they are and will remain (Hils, I am determined!), and Margaret just enchanted me with her sweet disposition and occasional flashes of just-like-Whit-as-a-baby moments. We all went for a walk over to campus and played at the playground by Hannah’s school for a while. The weather was sticky and humid and was trying to decide if it was going to rain. Then we went home for dinner (at the dining room table at Grace’s insistence) and tubs and stories for all three cousins. Early to bed for all. Sunday was coffee, a walk through campus, a visit to the library, an amazing Sunday brunch, and a stroll home.
As Grace and I drove away she made a big show of how tearful she was. “Grace,” I said, “Are you okay?” “Yes,” she sobbed dramatically. “It’s just hard to say goodbye to people you love so much!” It was altogether a wonderful visit. Hilary and I had our usual conversational blend of topics serious and the lighthearted, current and past. We laughed about stories from growing up and about our family’s foibles and fables. We shared our hopes and frustrations about growing into mothers, and our aspirations for the kind of parents we want to be.
It is grounding for me to be with Hilary; not only are her values the kind of rock-solid ones that remind me who I am and want to be, but she is the only person whose childhood mirrored mine and who can therefore remind me that I am neither crazy nor alone. As we grow older I think we are realizing we are more alike than different, despite paths that on the surface look divergent. I’ve long called Hilary the world’s first older-and-wiser younger sister, and I maintain that that is true. As I said in my rehearsal dinner toast the night before her wedding to Terence, my greatest gift to the world may have been having taught Hilary to read. I can retire now (indeed, I could have at the age of 5 or 6 when this feat was accomplished). I may have taught her but since that day she has galloped past me and it is my honor to watch in her wake, to listen to her wisdom, to learn from her actions. Hilary and Terence live in a way absolutely true to what they believe, and I have tremendous respect for this.
And Hannah! Oh, Hannah. In this picture in particular, Hannah is Hilary. I mean I literally look at her and I see Schnuff, as we called Hils, during the early Paris years. Poor Hilary, suffering from an acute allergy attack for an entire year in the Rue Brea apartment. The apartment that came complete with the ladies of the night downstairs. Ah, memories. As I said, Hilary and I have shared a winding road rich with adventures. Back to Hannah. Hannah is such an irrepressible spirit already. I loved watching her play with Grace; she reminded me of my daughter at that age, though she is already so verbally advanced as to be able to converse comfortably with a six year old. She is funny and wise, confident and shy, curious and stubborn. In fact, those six words describe her mother, too. Hilary and Hannah. Two of my very very very favorite people in this world.
So, Hils. I gave my son your name, I love you more with each passing year, and I am deeply blessed to share this journey of adulthood, parenthood and daughterhood with you. May we never stop reflecting for each other the world we came from and also, simultaneously, the world we believe we can create for our children.