Ann McLellan Lardas

Unexpected Joy

There are perfect moments in our imperfect world.

The hardest part of being an adult is that the people you love are in many places, and so you simply cannot be with all of them at once. On some level we accept this fact, in order to function. The motherly portion of my heart is split into quarters and hovers over the four States where my adult children live. My sisterly heart is similarly torn yet holds together: I understand that my siblings are unlikely to walk through my front door, since the surviving four are all married with children and live one to four hours away. And one is moving further than that soon.

We’d had a beautiful day at church. It was the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, and my husband blessed flowers and herbs that people brought. The Sisterhood made an amazing yet healthy lunch of seasonable things — salads with fresh tomatoes, a salad of watermelon, brown rice, feta and cucumbers, roast chicken with shallots, farmer’s market peaches with whipped cream for dessert. He’d come home and was having a post-liturgical nap, the blessing of a day of rest. I drove some friends home from church, changed out of my good clothes, and was decompressing when my cell phone rang.

It was a very local call from someone who lives far away. My younger brother was driving home from seeing our sister to the south, where he and his dogs had visited. He and his wife are in the process of moving two thousand miles away; she and the kids are settling in while he attends to last minute East Coast business, which includes visiting us all. But I thought we had had our moment when we all went out for dinner in New Hampshire last week.

Sometimes you are hanging out at your cluttered desk, barefoot, in your hippy cotton dress, with your straps showing and your hair down, and something amazing happens that transforms your day.  Isn’t it wonderful to be surprised by joy?

I had left the front door unlocked.

My brother was calling from my living room.

I turned around, cell phone in hand, and there they were, he and the dogs.


The drive here had been grueling. I got to play with the canine niece and nephew while my brother snagged a nap, and then I got to feed him while we talked. We gave him Mock Convent Pilaf (recipe and story to follow) and talked for several hours. Then it was time to say goodbye again, which is what life is, a bunch of practice departures leading up to the final one, after which, if God so grants, we get to see everyone good again.

But “goodbye” is a compression of “God be with you.” And it implies so many other good things: God be with you till we meet again.

It implies: we will meet again.

Meanwhile, hug everyone while you can.


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