This past weekend Patrick flew home with me and met my family for the first time. It was a weekend filled with laughter, ease, joy and so much peace. It ended with two exhausted twenty somethings on a cramped Frontier flight, headed back to good ole Denver, Colorado.
As I sat there, two hours deep in a four hour plane ride, I was exhausted and pretty uncomfortable in that awful chair but yet so happy. Patrick, who struggled to sleep on the plane ride there, had his head rested in my lap and was out cold. I'm not sure if it was me letting him have the aisle seat or the nerves of the first trip behind him but on this side of the trip he seemed to fall asleep with ease.
I was extremely nervous for Patrick to come home with me, more nervous than I think is maybe normal. The months leading up to our trip I felt a strong sense of protection over my family and the short few days I'd have with them. I think it's safe to say that I have a healthy but very real air of jealousy in regards to my parents and my siblings and who is around when I get to spend time with them.
I can't express fully how much I cherish the time I get to spend with my family. After high school I took a year off before college to work and that was the last year I spent at home. After my gap year I went away to college and traveled the world for a few years after graduation before ending up n Denver. So when I go home it's not just to relax or for vacation it's the short and rare window of quality, in person time, I have with them throughout the year.
I feel kind of selfish admitting this but I think a large part of me was nervous to bring Patrick home because I didn't want him to take away from my time with my family. I didn't want to have to spend the entire weekend facilitating introductions and conversations and making sure he was having a good time instead of just having a good time myself.
I often leave home feeling like the time flew by and I didn't get to fully soak in each moment with the people that I love. That fear, I hate to say, heavily outweighed my excitement for Patrick to finally meet everyone. Underneath the weirdness, there was still excitement but it never came without being quickly followed by the thought that one of my few trips home could potentially not go well.
Of course, none of my fears came true. Patrick was wonderful with my family and having him there 100% added to my experience. Patrick is self sufficient, brave, personable and so easy to be around and all of those qualities shined brighter than ever this weekend.
On the plane ride back to Denver I spent a lot of time pondering the idea of family. I thought about my parents and my siblings and the huge impact that they've had on my life and my happiness. I also thought a lot about Patrick and his family.
Patrick introduced me to his family within the first few weeks of our relationship and it's been such a joy to know them. His family is welcoming and kind and so loving and I cringe at the thought that if he was jealous of their affection and selfish with their time I'd have missed out on so much.
This weekend I was reminded of something simple that we all learned in preschool, "sharing is caring." Patrick shares his family, whom he values so very much, with me because he cares about me and being able to do the same thing for him this weekend was amazing.
When you start to share the things and people who matter the most to you, I realized this weekend, you gain way more than you lose. I guess family is meant to be shared and before you know it the small knit group, you never imagined would change, is bigger and more special than ever.
As Patrick and I left the plane and entered the terminal he grabbed my hand and familiarity and relief washed over me and all of a sudden he felt a lot less like an intruder and a lot more like family.