June 24, 2009

Laceyland Revisited

Once again I’ve been granted privileged access to Laceyland, the gathering of the Lacey clan in the home of Patrick’s parents. This time it was a somber occasion that brought us together.

Patrick’s brother James was killed in a tragic car accident a couple of weeks ago, and Patrick came home to Indiana to be with his family. He has mourned online as well, and you should read his eloquent tributes to his very sweet and sometimes goofy brother if you haven’t already done so.

Last week I was welcomed warmly into the family fold once again, and we chatted mostly about benign subjects that brought out stories and laughter. James’ life and remaining presence were acknowledged here and there. I was shown some of his many collectibles that the family was sorting through, bringing sweet amusement as they wondered what on earth to do with them. (I brought home a large crystal “diamond” for Ben, who predictably thought it was “cool.”)

Patrick and I fell into comfortable conversation right away. As someone who is usually worried about what to say, I must say that our online friendship has taken that away for the most part. The blogging connection offers an interesting dynamic that continues to flex and morph, and I marvel at the continuing potential for change in the social sphere.

I sat down to lunch with everyone, including a visiting aunt and uncle, and enjoyed being treated as another member of the family. My own family never quite mastered this, and I have to wonder at the kind of life that has taken this from us. It is what it is, and my family has other qualities that some might envy, so I remain grateful for what I have. But in my first visit to the Lacey home, as we sat at dinner and laughed so much my cheeks hurt, Patrick turned to me and said, “Is it any wonder I love to come home?” It is no wonder at all.

I would be remiss if I left out Fang, the Laceys’ deceptively-named sweetie-pie of a dog. Part Lab, part Great Dane, all heart, she would stretch out to get a tummy rub from anyone within reach. Like everyone else there, she treats you like family. (Unless you’re a squirrel; in that case all bets are off.)

As I heard stories of how James would take care of others—especially elderly friends— it became clear that his sphere of influence was perhaps small but certainly powerful. It seems James has left a loving legacy that we would all do well to heed. I would hope that my legacy would be similar: not some monument to effort or accomplishment but an ever-growing circle of loving acceptance that continues well beyond my influence.

Even in their grief, Patrick’s family opened their home to visitors, making room for one more. Such graciousness, at a time when one might understandably turn inward instead, exemplifies the warmth I have come to experience from Patrick. I pray that the Laceys and James’ friends find peace and comfort in this life that continues without him.


Java said...

How wonderful that you were able to visit Laceyland again, and share their joyful memories of a beloved brother and son. I wish I were close enough to do the same. I am so sad for their loss. They seem like an especially strong family, and James will always be close to their hearts.

Greg said...

I was especially glad to hear that you were going to be able to visit Laceyland again during this sad time, and hopefully hugged all the Laceys enough for us all.