Today we spent seven fun-filled hours at Canobie Lake Park, chasing our dare devil children from one ride to the next. Now I like roller coasters as much as the next person, but I must admit my favorite ride came at the end of the night. Reclining in the old leather seat, the heat coming off the floor vents taking off the chill of the night, the hum of the old diesel engine lulling me into pure contentment.
Fitz often laughs about my deep attachment to our old bus. I know it’s silly, but I have many good reasons to be so attached. Whether it’s the crazy story of how we ended up with ‘Old Blue’, the memories of a 12 day trip down to the Outer Banks, the many summers spent at camp, middle of the night thunder storms sending kids scrambling out of tents and onto the bus with us, or the warm Spring night last May after walking all night in the Relay for Life when I climbed onto the bus at 2am exhausted and found eight bodies sprawled in every available space. All these memories have one thing in common though. Togetherness. Nothing brings our family together like that old bus does. There is no better feeling in the world for me than lying awake in the middle of the night listening to all 9 of us breathing in the same space. I know we are all safe, I know we are all happy, I know we are all together.
Tomorrow our oldest, Kaleigh, leaves for college. For me it feels like the beginning of the end of that togetherness. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not sad at all. In fact I am excited for her, excited for all that she is going to be experiencing in the coming years. But I’m realizing that my mother duck days of sitting on my nest full of eggs is coming to an end. We are starting a new chapter here in Fitzville. The first of the Fitzlings is flying the nest. She’s done an amazing job of teaching her younger brothers and sisters to fly, and I know in the coming years we will be watching each of them make their way into the world.
Someday it will just be Fitz and I on that bus. I joke with him about selling the house, and spending our golden years driving around, taking turns parking in each of our kids’ driveways to visit our grandchildren. But I am only half joking. I’ll need that old bus more than ever then... if only for the memories like today, driving home from an amazing family day with 7 kids sleeping behind us.