As many of you know, my family has been taking the same spring trip together for over twenty years.
If you have been an avid reader of this blog, you may have, in a sense, taken the trip with us last year. Coming just five months after my father’s death, it was hard. I tearfully joked that I felt we should have purchased an extra seat on the plane, for the grief we carried with us surely was too big to fit in the overhead compartment.
I shied away from family photos that year. It was as if I didn’t want to remember it. Not as if, actually. I didn’t. I just wanted to get through it, because he would want us to keep going there…and to keep toasting to him with each sunset.
Fast forward a year, and for months prior to the trip there was an unspoken worry –
Will Mom be well enough to go? Would we go without her?
She would insist. It would be awful.
As the trip approached, we learned not only would she be able to come, but she would also be completely done with treatments. We were elated. I was on a high for about a week…until suddenly the pain of not having my dad there resurfaced for me. In talking to my mom, the same thing had happened to her.
Perhaps, she said, we never had enough time to grieve him. Suddenly we were thrown into dealing with The Big C. Our grieving was interrupted. Now that that storm has passed, the grief returns…not yet through with us.
I found this thought incredibly frustrating. I know I’ll mourn my dad forever, but I so desperately wanted to feel light again. Life has been so heavy.
I wanted to stand on the beach with my toes in the warm sand, and to fully feel the sun on my face…literally and metaphorically.
Off we went to Boca Grande…
In the end, aside from a few tearful moments, the predominant feelings I had throughout the trip were those of gratitude and joy.
Dad wasn’t there – but Mom was…and she had fought like hell to be there.
There we were – my big, beautiful family, in the most beautiful place.
There’s something I’ve noticed about the beach at Boca Grande. Every year it is the same familiar place, but there is always something slightly different about it, too. All of the storms throughout the year, and even the day to day currents and tides…they alter the landscape.
They expose new things, they erode coastline, they create sand bars.
Things never stay the same, and yet, it is always beautiful.
It is always Boca.
In our lives we have day to day currents and tides that ever so slowly and subtly alter us. Sometimes there are big storms that ravage us, and we must rebuild. Sometimes the devastation is so vast, we aren’t sure where to begin…but we do.
We always do.
Life creates and exposes, erodes and rebuilds.
What remains, through it all, is fundamentally beautiful –
It is Life…or as Mary Oliver wrote…”your wild and precious life.”
And she asks…
What do you plan to do with it?