Anticipation

One of the small handful of CDs I owned when I was in high school was Carly Simon’s Greatest Hits Live. That’s right, friends… while my friends owned Michael Jackson’s Bad, U2’s Joshua Tree, and Madonna’s Like a Prayer, I was rocking out with Carly Simon. I obviously aced “how to be a nerd” even then.

Anyway, one of my favorite Carly Simon songs is “Anticipation.” I know that some of you musically inclined people are breaking out in song right now! For the rest of you, let me help you out. 😉 (https://youtu.be/4NwP3wes4M8)  This is the soundtrack of our days right now. Everything Fred and I do is in anticipation of the trip to come.

We started planning our upcoming trip to Alaska 15 months ago. Following the death of our son, Craig, one year earlier, we were freshly aware of how fleeting life can be and how precious family time is. I was antsy to gather our kids from near and far and travel somewhere grand. It wasn’t hard to convince Fred that it was time to refresh the database of family memories and photos with some “forced family fun.” My sabbatical helped us pick the dates. Our kids helped us choose the destination. The cruise line helped us book the reservations. Alaska, here we come!

That means we have had, roughly, 15 months, or 465 days, or 669,600 minutes of anticipating this trip… But who is counting?!

Anticipation, anticipation is makin’ me late, is keepin’ me waitin’…

And tomorrow we might not be together
I’m no prophet and I don’t know nature’s ways
So I’ll try and see into your eyes right now
And stay right here ’cause these are the good old days

Oh, don’t get me wrong. There have been other trips, other highly anticipated trips, in between. But this is the one that Fred and I make together with our kids and their partners. He and I have been planning it together, and planning it for our family. So, it is big.

What started as random cruise text messages among the birthday reminders, video links, and periodic photos in our family group chat, eventually grew into the Cruise Crew group message. This conversation is filled with GIFs of happy cats, a Snoopy dancing, and an inflatable dino flipping headlong into a rubber raft. It also has several lengthy messages from Fred, each with multiple bullet points of info that he painstakingly typed into his phone, so that our kids might know several vital bits of information. I am sure the info in these messages is vital, and I have read every word. However, when our very bright and well-read kids say, “They are sooo long, Dad,” I am pretty sure that means they haven’t read them. Shhh… don’t tell Fred. 

At our house, the suitcases are out of the crawl space, the laundry is piled on the bed, and the toiletries are collected… other than the few things that absolutely can’t get packed until the day we leave. We are under no illusion that the same is true at the apartments of our grown children. Still being a mom, I am packing enough bug spray, Band-Aids, and sunscreen for them to use when they forget their own. However, I did not send them a bulleted text with this information.

Fred and I will spend a few days together in Vancouver before” the kids” join us from Charlotte, NC and Austin, TX. They arrive next Thursday; the cruise departs on Friday. We have made great plans for the days together in Vancouver and for most every stop of the cruise. And yet, as the time draws nearer, and the anticipation grows greater, what I find myself imagining again and again are the giant hugs that will envelop us when we see each other after all this time.

Anticipation, anticipation is makin’ me late, is keepin’ me waitin’…

And tomorrow we might not be together
I’m no prophet and I don’t know nature’s ways
So I’ll try and see into your eyes right now
And stay right here ’cause these are the good old days

I am keenly aware that when I return home from this long-anticipated trip, I will return to work from this great gift of a sabbatical. I anticipate my return with joy and hope and gratitude… and, just a touch of sorrow as I leave this precious time of rest and renewal. Thoughts of garden worship, Confirmation programming, and pastoral visits creep into my mind and take hold, just a bit. And yet, as the time draws nearer, and the anticipation grows greater, what I find myself imagining again and again are the giant hugs that will envelop us when we see each other after all this time.

I look forward to it, dear church, with great anticipation! After all, these are the good old days.