For thirty years, I never considered moving from Colorado. I’d love to tell you that I was too in enamored with the mountains (I really do feel connected to them), or that I had some amazing life happening that couldn’t be found anywhere else. But the truth is, I didn’t give it much debate. Colorado was where I lived. Period.
My husband and I had been married about a year and had moved into our first house when he dropped the bad news. The company he worked for was closing their Colorado office. He could transfer to one of their other locations, or look for a new job. He asked if I would be ok with him seeking another job within the company.
“Sure. Can’t hurt,” I replied, believing it would take some time to find another position.
Three weeks later, he was offered a job and we were moving to Arizona.
He recently confessed to me that he was really nervous about the move. He worried I would miss my family and friends too much, and insist on going back. He had a right to be anxious. Three decades is a long time to spend in one place, especially when you have never known anything else. The night before we were set to move, I cried on my youngest brother’s shoulder and told him how much I did not want to go. He hugged me and said I would be fine. “You have one friend by your side. That’s all you need. Just one.”
I have made a great life for myself in Arizona, and now consider it my home. I love the weather. I can’t believe that a person who despises cold weather as much as I do made it in Colorado for as long as I did. I’ve made good friends. I am happy here.
But every once in awhile, something happens that makes me feel the distance of just how far away from Colorado I am. In this case, the Super Bowl.
I come from a family of die hard Bronco fans. In the last months of her life, my grandma was battling dementia, and could often not remember what had happened five minutes before. But she always remembered to ask me about the Broncos- if I had seen the last game they played or what I thought about some new hot shot that had joined the team. I didn’t have the heart to remind her I lived in Arizona and that Cardinals game were broadcast, not Broncos.
I think you can make a certain amount of assessment about a person by looking at the nick nacks in her home. For as long as I can remember, my grandma had a Broncos candle and John Elway commemorative plate on her shelf. This love for the team translated to her children (my mother) and on down to my siblings and I.
I hate to admit it, but I am a fair weather fan. I guess that’s not accurate. I always root for the Broncos. They are my team. But I don’t follow them. I am that person that doesn’t know what happens in football until it’s play off time.
This year, watching the play offs took on special significance. It sounds silly and superstitious, but to my family, watching the Broncos beat the Patriots- well, it felt like they were doing it for my brother, Chris, and my grandma, Pat, both of whom passed away just a couple of months ago.
I loved them both, but the loss of Chris is still especially difficult for me. It has been three months since he passed, and I still cry from missing him. Not every day, not all the time. It is amazing how easily I can slip back into normal life- so long as I don’t think about him.
But I do think about him. All the time. I try to talk to him and take him with me. This past Sunday at yoga, during a quiet moment, I laughed in my mind and whispered “bet you never thought you’d be going to a yoga class.” It’s pretty absurd to think if he could somehow follow someone around that he would choose me- I doubt he’d really find play dates with other moms and crafting time to be very scintillating. But I talk to him just the same. I just wish so much that he was here.
I got into a bit of a panic about the Super Bowl. I wanted to be with my family. Living in another state, I miss out on a lot. Yes, I see them multiple times a year, and it is always special and memorable. But I’m not there when my niece runs a good track meet. Or when my brother wins a big poker tournament. Or when my family has a Super Bowl party.
I looked into tickets. Wouldn’t it be so cool to surprise them by showing up for the Super Bowl? But fantasy gave way to reality. Two funerals and other trips are not easy to absorb into our finances. My kids have missed a ton of school. We need to stay put for awhile.
I got the bright idea- what if I bought my mom a ticket to visit me in Arizona? I latched on to this idea with gusto, failing to take into account that maybe it was not a good time for her. She’s in the middle of trying to find a new home and pack up to move. It’s short notice. And although she would never say it, I have a feeling she wants to be in her home with her memorabilia, watching the game. My brother had to remind me that I don’t know her reality. I can’t just say “come” and expect her to run.
Like any transplant, I have assembled a second family. I have the sweetest in-laws in the world. They host a Super Bowl party every year. Yesterday, I went to their home and found their kitchen table covered with Broncos ornaments made from salt dough. We’ve been discussing what orange and blue snacks we can serve. My best friend and her family are coming over to celebrate with us.
Today, I noticed two boxes on my door steps. I looked at the return address and recognized it as my mom’s. She sent Broncos t-shirts for all of us, her way of being part of our celebration. My boys immediately put on their new duds, and I took a photo of them together.
My boys. Coming from a family of four brothers, I was really thankful when I found out my second child would also be a boy. I wanted Liam to have a brother- a best friend to share things with. I remember telling Casey that I was pregnant with another son and he said “aahh, a new generation of brothers.”
I look at them, and I am glad that the tradition of brothers will live on in my boys. But sometimes my heart also aches. It doesn’t feel right to talk about MY brothers and to know that one of them is gone.
This Sunday, I may reside in Arizona, but my heart will be in Colorado. With my family, thinking of my brothers, remembering those loved ones that are gone.