Family

 

For those of you who don’t know, I have about a gazillion siblings. Nine of them have formed a choir, and they are aptly called Somos Elias. You can watch their videos on Youtube by looking up the channel misshannahofficial.

They upload covers of popular Christian songs and these are done in our living room (which yours truly usually ends up recording on our phone camera… one word: OW). However! This time around, we had an actual film crew come in to professionally film their first real music video!

Weeks were spent deciding on location spots. The film director (aka: Kevin, an incredibly awesome human) spent a day or two driving around the island with my sister, looking at beaches and checking out mountain-terrain spots. In a turn of sudden events, a friend offered her parents’ lake-house as a possible site: Kevin checked it out and bam! Location was a go.

At the last possible minute, I was recruited to be the One-Woman Cooking Show. This means that while the kids were off sitting around campfires crooning their little hearts out, I was up at the house, frantically banging pots and pans around and over-salting absolutely everything.

DAY #1:

We woke up at four in the morning on Tuesday to begin packing up the cars and getting ready. (We squeezed 16 people’s luggage into the trunks of three cars and tied all of our extra bedding to the roof of one of the cars; somehow, the guys managed to fit five huge logs into their trunks as well as three days’ worth of groceries in there, although I have no idea how.) We bundled in the cars and off we went. Two and a half hours later, we reached our destination

A peek at some of the perks of the lake-house ;)
A peek at some of the perks of the lake-house 😉

I’m sure that somewhere in the hidden by-laws of the Blogosphere, posting pictures of other people’s houses is frowned upon. Thus, I will only give you the above-shown glimpse of the property.

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The boys jumped right into the pool upon our arrival with no qualms.

David, my mother's youngest, holding the whopping grapefruit he found.
David, my mother’s youngest, holding the whopping grapefruit he found.

While the crew went off to set up the sites, I got to cooking. Our (very funny, friendly, hospitable) hostess graciously volunteered to help me and I gratefully passed the buck of making ten cups of rice to her.

The day was spent exploring and getting to know our hosts and preparing for the next day of filming.

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The lake in the morning.

DAY #2:

The next morning, I woke up to roosters crowing (a sound I loathe, by the way) and was stunned by the glorious sight of the morning sun on the lake.

The kids were trussed up and sent off for their first shoot, which took place on the river.

The kids and crew at the river.
The kids and crew setting up.

Meanwhile, if anybody cares what I was doing at the time, I was making enough mashed potatoes to feed a small army. They were the kind that comes out of a box. Despite the fact that I’d never made them before, you’d think following the very simple instructions on the back of the box would be pretty fool-proof. Nope. I still managed to miscalculate an entire box of the stuff and it came out so over-salted, the kids dumped barbecue sauce on it just to mask the taste. #Fail

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That evening, the kids went for their second shoot: the campfire scene.

Elijah and John. You're going to be reading a lot about them in my book.
Elijah and John. Remember these faces. You’re going to be reading a lot about them in my book.

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DAY #3: 

Certain of the kids were selected for close-ups and off they went to sit on pretty little cliffs and wander picket-fenced lanes.

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The crew, with the assistance of my brother, the blondie in green.

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That night, I was finally able to go along to check out the filming process! That was an adventure in itself. The fire was set up, the logs arranged, and I hung on the outskirts wearing one of my brothers’ sweatshirts and an ancient pair of converse, taking scenic pictures of the lake (which looked ethereal in the fading light of the day).

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As the night dragged on, I sat uncomfortably on an upturned log and fidgeted. This filming business was no joke. Scenes were shot over and over again. The fire was a little drama all of itself. It refused to catch and burn – the guys kept pouring lighter fluid over it to keep it going – it eventually sustained itself and proceeded to burn for seven long hours. Light faded and then the woods were pitch black.

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I was amazed at my siblings’ endurance. They did exactly as they were told and didn’t complain. We had nowhere to sit in between shots except for on the one garbage bag which we’d brought for the guitar and a couple of logs. By the time 9:30 rolled around, two of my brothers were asleep on said garbage bag and I was seriously contemplating joining them.

They didn’t finish until midnight.

We blearily picked up our trash and supplies and stumbled to the cars. Once back at the lake-house, we crashed into bed and slept somewhat soundly till morning.

Our last day at the house was spent packing and cleaning up. We said goodbye to half of the crew who had to return to work and started putting the house back together. But, the fun wasn’t over yet. Our host wanted to take us on a tour of the lake in his boat. I’ve never been on a boat in a lake before, so it was a first for me.

I loved it.

Rainclouds showed up halfway through and had us absolutely soaked, but it was still a blast. Our host showed us all the properties and farmhouses, pointed out the crops of coffee, and even drove (?) us past the campfire spot where we had filmed the night before (we could still smell the smoke).

It was the perfect finish to our epic filming adventure.

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Points for cheesy narration, eh? 😉

That’s a wrap!

Family

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If roses grow in Heaven, Lord

Please pick a bunch for me

Place them in my brother’s arms

And tell him they’re from me

Tell him that I love and miss him

And when he turns to smile

Place a kiss upon his cheek

And hold him for awhile.

Family

 

I’ve been staring at this blank post all day. Trying to decide what it is that I’m feeling, what it is I want to say… what it is I should say.

He would have been eighteen today.

Eighteen.

A boy on the cusp of manhood. An adolescent preparing to take on the crown of adulthood. What kind of a man would he be becoming now? What would he look like? How would his voice sound?

When he left us, his voice was still high and sweet. He was still just a child. He left us a battered body. He suffered so much those last few months.

We used to celebrate his birthday, the first several years. We would eat dessert and sing ‘happy birthday’ looking to the sky. I don’t know when we stopped, or why. The years have become something of a blur.

I thought it would be different this year. Eighteen, after all. But I don’t think we can bear to remember. A few minutes ago, while I was staring at this screen, searching for words, my father suddenly called into the air:

“Today is Matthew’s birthday.”

That was it. Nothing to precede those words, nothing to follow them. My step-mother, standing at the sink, said to herself, “There must be a big party in Heaven today.”

No one answered her.

I don’t think, even now, that we have figured out this grieving thing. We never did grieve… it was so sudden, and so much happened afterwards. There was no time or space to stop, to understand, to mourn. Instead, another death, and then more trauma, more pain. I was thinking earlier how torn up our souls were, and how the wound of his leaving never really healed. We don’t feel the pain as often anymore, or as much, because of the scar tissue, built up over the wound. We looked away from the pain and up to Heaven. Eyes on Jesus. As long as you’re looking up, what can hurt you?

We all go about our days, pretending we don’t remember. But I think that deep down, deep down inside, there’s something torn up and scarred over, like a lost limb.

He would have been eighteen.

I couldn’t bear not to write about him today. It’s too momentous of a day to swallow and look away. He deserved this much at least.

I wonder what kind of a man he would have become. I can imagine him now, tall and thin, blond hair too long, brown eyes big, crinkling at the corners from laughing. I wonder what it would have been like, growing up alongside him. I remember his gentleness and his sweetness. I wish I could reach back in time and hold his hand the way I long to now, look deep into his eyes and tell him I love him.

I don’t remember the day he was born but I remember him tagging along behind us older girls, begging to be allowed to play with us. I wish we would have let him more often. I remember him telling me that when we grew up, he wanted to marry me. I laughed and ruffled his hair; he was only five, I was eight. We never doubted our ability to grow up. We didn’t know he would be dead in three years.

Something I puzzle over often is the fact that he has been dead two years longer than he was alive with us. Eighteen. He died at eight. In eleven days, it will be ten years since he left us.

Numbers. They’re all we have left of him. Even my memories have left me. I know rather than remember that he went through a phase of telling everyone that he wanted to be called Kangaroo. I know rather than remember that he loved giving away presents.

Numbers. Memories. Dates. Scar tissue.

Sometimes they’re all that remain of our loss.