July 2021, I picked up my 15 yr old nephew, Roberto, at the airport on a Friday afternoon. He was going to be a teen staff at the Family Camp where my husband Ed, our two sons and I attended every summer for a week for 17 years.
Roberto and his mom, Ed’s sister Sandra, attended for 9 years and Roberto staffed last year and staffed again this year. Family Camp was a place for our family to review our year, reconnect with our little family, make new family
friends and rejuvenate our individual and family faith. It was our calm in the storm of life. It was our holy ground. Now that Ed is gone it is where we visit to relive the wonderful family memories we had for 17 precious summers.
Saturday, my son Jordan and I drove Roberto to Family Camp for staff training one day before the families arrived on Sunday. We were proud to deliver the next generation of Riveras to continue the tradition.
Before we left Jordan and I took Roberto up to the chapel to see the memorial tree planted for our beloved Ed. Ed was the greatest husband, dad, brother, son and friend. Ed passed away suddenly from a genetic heart defect on August 1, 2020 while doing one of his favorite things, riding his bike, with one of his favorite sons. He left for heaven just 3/4 of a mile from our house. He almost made it back to our house but instead God took him home. We blew bubbles and said prayers around Ed’s tree. Roberto helped us hang a memorial cross in a nearby tree. The cross, made of two sticks, twine and decorated with painted letters, hung in our family room since 2010 when our KK Family gave it to us. That was also the 1st year Roberto and his mom Sandra came to Family Camp so the cross had even more meaning.
We left the cross, said good bye to Ed’s tree, looked out from the view from the chapel on the hill remembering how we use to run down the hill so many times at the end of each summer. We tried to imagine what Ed’s view of Family Camp must be from heaven. Family Camp was a little taste of heaven for our family. The brick we bought our last year at camp says what Family Camp did for us.
Thank you to the Brasley Family for inviting us. Thank you God for 17 summers of family love that will fuel us until we are all reunited in heaven.