Saturday, July 31, 2010

There and back again.

We're home from the beach. As I mentioned in my last post, the oncologist squeezed my mom in before I left so I didn't need to come back for that appointment. Which isn't to say she didn't have any other ones. She had a ton. Two with the radiologist. A chemo class. Financial counseling. And an entire days spent at the hospital to put in a chemo port, and get a scan to see if the cancer has traveled. My baby brother--I have three--went to some of those with her. My step-father went to all of them and everyone involved insisted adamantly that my presence was not required. "Enjoy your time with your family," they all said. And so I tried.

The first couple days were hard. Summer vacation is kind of a sacred time for our family. Where a bubble of a too small condo and too much free time forces a level of closeness it's hard to find in the busyness and responsibilities of real life. Especially in a family whose kids are such diverse ages. We look for ways to accommodate everyone. We say yes more than no. It is, without a doubt, my favorite week of the year. But this year driving away from our home there was a weight on my chest that was unfamiliar. Bouts of anxiety and sadness would hit me unexpectedly, especially at night, and there were times where it felt I literally couldn't catch my breath. But eventually the ocean started to work it's magic.

Good gracious, do I ever love the ocean. A lot of people in my life don't believe in God. They think they're too intelligent for all that religion nonsense. And I get that. There are times when it's easy for me to see how people could wonder where God is in this mess we've made of things. But sitting on a beach isn't one of those times. There's something about it. The way it radiates both peace and power. It's like someone running a steamer over all the knots and wrinkles inside me. God's creation ministers to me in a way nothing else can. And let me tell you, my soul needed some ministering this week.

I was so sad and anxious about what my mom was going through at home. And then the "cottage" we rented turned out to be a bit misrepresented. As in they failed to represent that no upkeep had been done on the place since 1986. The carpet and sofas were gross. The comforter on the bed was unusable and the first night we slept under the picnic blanket from the back of the van. And well, I must confess I didn't respond to this situation very graciously. There was a lot of stomping and pouting and a few tears. But it was right across the street from the beach. And thanks to that, my glass-half-full husband and my kids who didn't know any better, it all became a kind of funny adventure. We played putt-putt, and road go-carts and shopped, and ate and played cards and trotted back and forth to the beach every single day for a dose of God's medicine. And when drawers fell out onto the floor when you opened them, and the toaster caught on fire, and the bedroom door broke, we laughed. And when we finally got frustrated enough with the awful showers to start stripping The Littles down and showering them on the back porch after our daily beach trips we laughed even harder. We dubbed it our redneck beach trip.

And I think I'll probably remember it forever.

So even though the weight on my chest didn't ever entirely go away, it became much lighter. And sometimes, for a bit, I even forgot to notice it was there. And the kids had so much fun, there were tears when it was time to leave our shabby little beach home behind. Which made me tear up a little too.

We're home now, a fact that brings both wistful sadness and relief. Already the lawn has been mowed and laundry has been running for hours. The basement flooded while we were gone and The Man has already started ripping up the carpet. Real life, washing back over me as quickly as one of those ocean waves. And I am grateful. For all of it. The real life. My mom and siblings who did, indeed, survive without me. And for the vacation. Every semi-sweet redneck moment of it.

Pictures to follow. I took 200 and was too daunted to start going through them tonight.


  1. Sounds like the trip was a bit of a mixed bag...kind of like life! I'm so glad it turned out to be a very fun time for you.

    I know a lot of science people don't believe in creation or God...but everything I learn and observe makes me that much more certain that it couldn't have just HAPPEN like this, it couldn't be so intricate and so perfect by accident.

    Still thinking of your mom and your family. I hope things progress well for her.

  2. Glad you had a good time after all. I could have written the same paragraph about sitting on the beach- it's just healing to me. I've been making it my goal lately to try to get out of the house around sunset for that very reason.

    I'm glad your mom has some support other than you. I know with work/school starting back, your life is going to be even more hectic than normal, plus the weight of this grief and cancer treatment, well, I'm just worried about you.

    Also it is a testament to how busy your life is that you just mention a flooded basement in passing like it's the least worrisome thing that's going on. Ack!

  3. I am glad you had that time away, even if it was a bit iffy at first.

  4. The beach can cure all for me, too...although I think I'd have been in tears with you if I found a cottage like that. Good for you for turning it into a funny memory instead of a horrible disaster!

  5. So glad for your trip and glad for the gratitude it provoked. I like real life too. I like those glimpses of eternity that remind us of the preciousness of the real and ordinary.

  6. i feel the same way about the ocean. I'm glad you enjoyed your vacation, and that it was, indeed, a REcreation for you.

    and flooding basements! damn. You and me, both, sister, as if we weren't handling enough already.