Show up or miss out

Ryan, Amber, familyTwo weeks ago today, I walked into work determined to make it a better week than the previous one. It was “do over week.” That evening, as I was on a run after work, I got a phone call that stopped me in my tracks, and I knew do over week was over and the days that followed would be very different than I imagined.

Two weeks ago today, we lost a family member all too soon. My cousin Ryan and his wife Amber were in a car on the highway in Texas on one of his business trips, when a freak accident happened and took Amber’s life. She was 31 years old. As my mom relayed the news to me over the phone three thousand miles away, I knew that both of us wanted nothing more than to hop on a plane that second and head to Louisiana to be with our family.

Then and there, all I could do was head back to the office, get my bags, and head home. I knew then and there that if Mom couldn’t make the trip, that I would represent and go to our family. Family comes first. Work, friends, anything else…it was all a blur for the next three days until I was on an airplane back home.

I have a huge extended family. Ryan is one of my twenty-two cousins, and his father, my uncle Timmy, is one of my favorite people in the whole world. Although I had only met Amber a couple of times, and unfortunately was unable to make her and Ryan’s wedding several years ago, as a Roussel, I knew that just being there to hug my family and show my support was enough. In our family, no matter how big we get, no matter what is going on, we step up, and we show up. Mom ended up not going, because just a few days later she was headed to Houston to be with my aunt, who is being treated for cancer at a hospital there. She was showing up there, I was showing up for the rest of the family. That’s what we do.

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Home vs. Home

We all get to that point where when we’re off on our own, we start referring to where we live as “home” versus our other home, our original home, that of our parents. I started saying it on accident in college, although home of parents was still much more my home than it is today.

A couple of years ago my parents moved into a new house. I lived in it for about 2 months after I had left college, before I came out to DC. Although when I go to Cincinnati to visit my parents, I call it home, I also continue to say “when I get back home,” and am then referring to DC.

Can there be two homes? It’s an interesting thing to think about. Home is where the heart is, you live in a house/apartment/boat/cardboard box, but it’s not home, etc, etc. Now after living on my own for 2 years, I no longer feel guilty when I refer to DC as “home” to my parents, because I really do feel I can have two homes. Here are the differences:

My Home in DC:
-cozy apartment all to my self
-my computer
-my bathroom has all the stuff I need in it, not just some stuff
-my snacks in the kitchen
-all of my books & decor
-all of my stuff
-my pillow
-my life

My Home in Ohio:

-my parents & my dogs
-Dad’s coffee
-parents’ food
-a better mattress
-bigger TV/more movies
-marathon TV sessions (L&O, NCIS, Band of Brothers)
-great backyard
-Graeter’s ice cream
-some old personal things to keep it feeling “homey”
-room to do a puzzle on the dining room table

It’s not a competition by any means. Each has its own pros, cons, and quirks. And of course, at home, I have family, and here, I’m alone. As much as I love being out here on my own, there’s nothing like going home a few times a year and just reverting back to childhood for a couple of days (without the early bedtimes).

What does home mean to you?