We just got back from Colorado and normally as soon as I get back, I like to share pictures of our travels and talk about the places we were, the things we saw, and of course the food we got to eat.  That blog will be coming, of course, but I have just a bit of a different one to write first.

We started to take the yearly trip to Colorado after my brother died. I wanted to visit his kids and their kids to get to know them better and I wanted to go visit the place he had grown to love so much that had become his home.

Our time went much too fast, as is normal for vacations.  On the last night, my niece had a family barbecue.  I was sitting around the table, enjoying the company, looking at so many wonderful people.  Family and friends. It made me smile and warmed my heart.

Then it made me sad.  How hard it was to live so far from them-to only travel there once a year to see them.  It struck me how two places could feel like home, because although I was once again a visitor here, it felt familiar enough to feel like home.  It felt like we belonged here, too. I didn’t want to leave all these people again so soon.  I wanted to be able to sit around the table and hang out with them more. I wanted to be here for holidays, for celebrations, or just for barbecues. I wanted to be able to sit outside and just talk with my niece about nothing, about ‘stuff’.

This year my daughter got to go and hang out with her cousins-some she hadn’t seen in probably 16 years. That’s a long time when you are in your early 20’s!  What was great and amazing, was that it seemed like they had been hanging out all along. They didn’t seem like strangers at all!

One of the days, was my ‘brother’ day. We got up very early to go to the last town he lived in. We wanted to watch the sunrise and watch the light on the mountains he loved so much!

When the sun was up we headed to the cemetery where he is buried.  I had not been there before.  It is a beautiful place with a great view of his beloved mountains.  There was no headstone yet.  I was both happy and sad about that.  I wanted to see it, yet I didn’t. My niece found the spot anyhow. It was strange to stand there, hard to take the truth in. I have a program on my phone called Ghost Radar. It is a fun little app.  I decided to turn it on when we were walking in there.  It only said one word the whole time, and that was when my niece found that spot-that word was ‘Morning’.

Next was breakfast at my brother’s favorite breakfast spot, Grandpa’s.  What a great little place with delicious food. I shed a few tears, just thinking about him there so long ago, so often.

The next stop was not any easier than the last.  We drove by what was his house to the spot he was at when he died. The only consolation to me, is that it was at a park, under a tree. Like me, my brother loved trees.

We thought that was the end of spending our time with my brother, as we were headed to Boulder to explore the Pearl Street Mall.  We had never been there before and were excited to see yet a new place. It seemed our brushes or reminders of John would continue!

We walked into one store and I was drawn to one particular shelf.  On it was a man’s cologne named “Dear John”. It was a cologne created for the absent father of the creator-to remind him of his father. The card next to it told that story, and truly made me tear up.  I showed it to my niece. We read the ingredients in it, and there was nothing listed that he used. (Coffee, tobacco.) But when it was sprayed, she immediately teared up-it smelled like she remembered him smelling. I could not walk away and leave it, so I picked it up for her. Unfortunately, the card with the story did not come with it. The people there were kind enough to copy it so that she would have a copy of the story. I had to grab a kleenex as I paid for my purchases! Funny enough, sitting by that cologne, there was also a second one for men in honor of his father because his father loved TREES!

We still had more to come! We had to pick a place to meet my other niece for lunch. The place my niece picked was random-or so we thought.  There were many places to pick for lunch, but when she opened the pamphlet, she just picked the one we went to. It wasn’t at the top of the list and we looked at no menu. We headed to Foolish Craig’s Cafe.  What an amazing place, with delicious food. Everyone had burgers but my niece-she ordered a special crepe that had been featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  As we were sitting there, she suddenly remembered a conversation with her dad. This was the place he had wanted to go eat at in Boulder and guess what it was he wanted to order? You guessed it-that crepe!

I loved hanging out with my family. My brother has some wonderful kids and grandkids. He did good! I loved being in the places he loved. It was definitely harder to leave this time.

I know that his presence was both felt and missed greatly at the same time and although I will never get that big brother hug again, I can hug his family tightly and still hug a wonderful part of him!

This time this trip didn’t feel like a vacation at all.  It felt like home.