I began this post last week while packing for a week at the beach. I intended to finish it, if I decided to actually post it, while we were on vacation. However, our place did not have wifi so I took it as an opportunity to ignore my laptop and simply focus on being at the beach, being with my boys and family. It was a great time and I definitely wish I was still there! I’ve decided to share what I began, with a few tweaks, to make it timely. . . .
It’s been that time of year when my family begins packing our bags for our annual July 4th Beach Trip. My family is pretty traditional, meaning we don’t do change very well. We have been going to the very same beach since long before I was born. One year we did decide to do something different. It was the summer after the Third Son was born. We rented a great big house on a fabulous quiet stretch of beach on St. George Island in Florida. While we had a fabulous time, we quickly made our way back to “our” beach on Amelia Island, Florida. It was tradition! Why change a good thing?
Like any place that you have enjoyed for years, there are so many wonderful memories. This was the beach where I fished off the pier with my Daddy, looked for seashells with my Mom, spent far too many hours in the sun, had my first summer boyfriend, later lost my engagement ring – thankfully, found said ring, and taught my boys to ride the waves, build sandcastles and swim. So, as I begin to pack my bags, I am also reminiscing about all these fun memories, and packing them along with us.
Along with these many wonderful memories, there is also an unfathomably horrible memory that often supersedes the good ones. In fact, we almost thought we would never go back to our regular family spot. Three years ago, while on vacation, we experienced a traumatic event and loss when my brother suffered a brain aneurism and passed away three days later. I still falter while typing this. I wrote about it Something Personal. A Tribute in a tribute to Mike. As we were getting ready to make the trip last year I was a little nervous about going back and how it would be without his huge presence and how all the memories would overflow. A New Family Beach Trip recounted that trip. We had a lovely service scattering his ashes in one of his favorite spots and where he had planned to go before our world stopped.
We then toasted with his favorite, and original, homemade Possum Punch, thanks to my aunt for freezing it for so long!!
I am not trying to bore you all with some self-indulgent post on my life and loss. I think that I expected as we approached year three that the loss would be less painful. The loss would feel distant and maybe more fuzzy. (Some crazy articles on grief say you should feel better after six months.) However, I have learned that grief is its own journey and has its own sweet time. I don’t ask why anymore, but I still ask “how?” How did this happen? How can things be so nice, easy, fun and normal one minute, and so drastically different and life changing the next? I still can’t wrap my arms around it.
Perhaps it is just me. Maybe it is that I lost the three members of my family so close together, that’s why I still carry the grief around. Maybe I’m just not that strong. I have always been one of those softies that cries at a Publix commercial, so maybe it’s my own weakness. Maybe not. Maybe it’s just how I have to process this stuff in my life. If you are in a spot like mine this may make sense to you. I hope your life has not brought you to a life changing event. If it has I am sorry. Another thing I have learned through my own grief journey is that most of us are going to have something bad, messy and awful to deal with at some time. It has changed me and it may change you. I found this by author Anne Lamont and wanted to share:
I think this is where I am now. I know others who are also grieving and trying to figure out their new normal. Likely, there are many out there limping along.
We decided that we couldn’t simply stop a family tradition to escape bad memories. We needed to go back to honor our loved ones and all of the times we shared together. Things will never be the same, but that does not mean we do not get out there and celebrate and create new memories and stories. Our memories are what make our lives so spectacular. Mike used to say two things, “You better get busy living or get busy dying” and, of course, “It’s all about the stories.”. Our stories make our lives full and interesting. We all have ridiculous, crazy, could only happen to you kind of stories from our lives. However, where there is loss, even those funny and joyful memories can bring a little pain. Even the memories we want to re-live, that bring us so much joy, make us smile and laugh and simply remember, can still be hard. But I’m so very glad to have them and be able share them!
Enjoy Your Day!