Vacation Victory and Remembrance

A little over a week ago my family and I returned from a family trip to the Caribbean. These kinds of trips are always incredibly special to me. I have memories of spring vacations from when I was growing up so nostalgia is part of it, but it’s also been a while since the four of us have been able to go away together. So this trip felt special in a few ways–almost like a victory for our family.

The last time we planned something like this we were also going to go to a Caribbean island–it’s by far my favorite place to relax. A few months before, my husband began dealing with a health condition and at the time it was unclear how serious it would be. He made it a personal goal to recover before our family trip, since we all wanted some time away together–I saw him struggle, agonize and persevere. It was valiant, I felt powerless and I felt proud.

As we got closer to our departure, it became clear he could not travel. We decided not to disrupt the kids expectations as much as possible, so we made it a boys / girls holiday (their choice). I ended up taking my daughter away to St. Thomas on half of our planned trip and my son stayed with my husband and they had wings, watched a marathon of sports and probably hung out in t-shirts and boxer shorts.

As I said, that was two years ago.

Last year, my husband and I had just started new jobs and the time was not right to go away so we postponed something like this for another time.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had delightful excursions and tons of fun in the last two years. There’s just something about getting away as a family–just as a family–with nothing but time and books and the ocean and sand to bring you back together; make you listen harder, pay just a little bit more attention, hold each other just a smidgen closer, appreciate every moment’s exquisite simplicity and the day’s sublime routine–and savor that feeling for as long as humanly possible. Because it’s so easy to forget.

In our day-to-day we sometimes overlook what has meaning; we sometimes forget or it’s easy to take for granted that our time as “all of us” is limited. The clock is ticking. And that’s not all bad, each stage presents new opportunities, but it’s not forever. My daughter starts high school in the fall. High school. That means four years from now she will start college. College. Leaving the nest and moving on from our home and likely never living permanently with us again. As each stage has ended and a new one has begun I am simultaneously sad for what’s over and joyful about what starts and thrilled, proud, nervous and grateful. I don’t imagine this changing.

I also can’t imagine ever not having a room in my house that’s hers. Not having a bathroom containing her collection of hair ties, soaps, body scrubs and samples of shampoos and conditioners. Hearing her rustle the clementine box in the kitchen late at night when she thinks we aren’t looking. Her (and her brother) coyly asking if I’m going to watch TV upstairs — which really means can we all watch TV, in my bed together. And I know I will fall apart when the time comes that she is finally leaving our home… But I will do it discreetly, because I remember being on the other side of that coin and I know she will be managing her own excitement, pride, nerves and such and worrying about mom isn’t something she should have to concern herself with too.

But for now, I’m really thrilled we all got away to Puerto Rico. And I’m thinking, we shouldn’t wait two more years to do it again, so where should we go next year…?

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