It is August, 2004 and money three kids and I are in Maui with another family. They go often because the dad works for a major airline so they get to travel for free. We used to go often when I was married but haven’t been back to Maui in years. With the group of us, it should be a lot of fun because there are so many of us. Besides my three and myself, there are the mom and dad from the other family, three sons, one of the grandmas, an elderly family friend, an uncle and two of their family friends. The uncle and the two family friends are all Catholic priests. Two, Alex and Gabe grew up together in the same neighborhood so they’ve known each other all their lives. The third friend, Father Joe, they met at the seminary so they’ve known each other for at least thirty years. The group gets along very well. There are not only parents and grandparents along, but the Fathers are all like uncles. We got to meet and know the Fathers because my two girls were dating the two sons from that family. We did everything together and saw each other three or so times each week so it was a natural to go with them on vacation.
Sunsets, meals, drives through the island, a birthday dinner for my youngest, and a trip to watch the sun rise over Haleakala volcano. We did all of this with them. When we flew back to the mainland, we went our separate ways because we had moved to northern California while they remained in southern California. We were still in touch and when I drove my daughter to see her father in southern California, we would see the other family, too. That was August.
In November, Father Alex was elevated to Bishop. We were invited to the ceremony which was beautiful and inspiring. It was held at the Cathedral Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles with hundreds of clergy in attendance. We sat in the seats reserved for family. We stayed for the private dinner and the reception and then later moved on to a family party. It was an amazing feeling of camaraderie and family and faith and inspiration. Everything rolled into one.
We’ve all been a big extended family, even after our kids were no longer seeing each other. We’ve attended funerals together, graduations, baptisms, confirmations, birthday celebrations, and just plain ordinary dinner.
The group is getting smaller. Father Joe died on July 1 of 2006 when he suffered a stroke on his way to dialysis. It was a very great loss.
And yesterday, Father Gabe died. No word yet as to the specifics. He wasn’t ill. He just didn’t wake up yesterday morning.
So, today I am sad. The world is a little less bright without Father Gabe.
This wasn’t what I had planned to write for today but today is not a day I had planned for. Some things are more important than NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo. Some days are just for curling up in bed with my thoughts and my memories.