I have safely landed back in Chicago.
It was a welcome hospitable greeting as a friend (thanks, Kate!) picked me up from the airport... and airport that is quite out of the way from where we live, and included a drive through the city in rush hour traffic to get me... but I have never been so happy - with all of my bags and my excitement to be home - to have a friend so generous as to pick me up, curbside.
Arrival to Evanston included a quick greet to Kim, who picked up the keys to my apartment this afternoon since the office was closed by the time I arrived. We dropped my bags on the floor and stood in my apartment a whole of 4 minutes before moving on to a place where food could be eaten... clearly my cupboards are a bit bare after being away for over 2 months.
Dinner was great. A welcome meal with friends (more joined us!) that it was GREAT to catch up with! It was also good to be back in time to see the "baby bump" forming on Amanda!!! Followed by the recognition what we were all tired but not ready to say goodbye, we landed in the home of friends that immediately felt like home again. I cannot express how GREAT it felt to be HOME! Greeted with a fresh pot of coffee and a new video camera, the laughs were without end. And as more friends came to visit (they just kept calling - "are you here yet!?!"), I could not have felt more welcome, or more loved.
A phone call from a friend I've been trying to get in touch with all week was welcome and encouraging... it is a strange thing to try to grieve with friends hundreds of miles away... and it is an encouraging thing when they seem to genuinely be handling things so incredibly well... and with grace, peace, and trust in God. I am thankful for friends like this I can learn from, grow with, and be "present" with (even from afar) if/when a deeper reality later sets in.
God has really blessed me with some amazing relationships, and tonight I am reminded of that. I am reminded as I think of how great it was to see Laura and her children this morning... to spend the morning with my mom on the way to the airport, to spend the evening with great friends in an amazing community this evening... to stay in touch via phone to hear the voice of a friend I love and miss dearly, and for the gift of technology that has allowed me to chat and send messages to so many friends tonight. I talked to 6 members of the Ride:Well Team tonight- some brief, some more extensive - but all enough to remind me of the blessings they have brought upon me.