You know those beach trips that are good for the soul? That are so needed in so many ways? I love those because there’s something about everyday that you soak in and keep with you. It’s not just a vacation, it’s a recharge. Last year, in the midst of Dad’s battle, Adam and I were able to get in a day and a half at the beach and I remember saying “I so needed this” through a large exhale while staring at the water. Feeling so small next to that ocean, yet so peaceful. Little did I know that in exactly one week from that moment, Dad would be admitted to hospice. That small press of the mental reset button would be what pushed me through the worst time in my life. Since December, we’ve had a departure date of August 25th in the planner for this year’s vacation to Miramar Beach, FL and Adam, my mom, my sister, and I have all been running on fumes to get there, counting down the days via text message when we knew of one of us having a rough day.
However, we also knew this trip brought a different element. On one hand, gratitude for the opportunity to refill the tank. But on the other, a sadness and exhaustion that feels too permanent to be erased in the salty air. A walk on the eggshells of emotion stood between us and sandy toes. This would be the first vacation without our Captain. He was our best event planner…
“Tuesday – we putt-putt, Thursday – pizza in our suits and night swimming”
And we went along with it because he’s never failed us, every trip was special and he made it that way. How would we fare without him?Well…it’s a week later and I’m proud to say we made it through. I think we all feel rested, we’re definitely more tan than when we arrived, and while sadness still lingers, we can find comfort in another peaceful goodbye.
We discovered that sticking to an itinerary is not really our strong suit. We’d decide on breakfast at one of our favorite spots…and that’s the day waking up would feel impossible. Renting a movie would be thrown out to the group, agreed upon…and then no one’s eyes would stay open long enough to even pick the film. We flew by the seat of our swimsuits. We welcomed the sunny days and rainy days equally. Clear skies provided the fun and the clouds gave the ok to take time for quiet reflection in the condo. However, we did stick to one plan, the most important plan of the trip. We brought Dad to his second resting place.
Thursday, August 30th, we woke with the sun and watched as Dad became one with the waves. Knowing this was where we spent our last family vacation together in 2014 combined with dad’s love of the ocean gave us peace. It was tearful, but beautiful as a storm slowly rolled in. It felt poetic and appropriate, no one enjoyed watching lightening over the water more than my dad. The thought of him being present for every future vacation fills my heart with comfort.
When we packed up and were ready to get on the road this morning, we all took one last look at the ocean from our balcony. None of us really wanting to leave. Knowing it was partly due to the week being over, but mostly because a piece of Dad would be left behind. We took a selfie with the ocean behind us and then turned around to find a surprise that left us in awe. I know the science behind it, but in this instance, I know the spirit behind it. Through tear-filled eyes, I watched as a subtle rainbow crept closer to shore with each passing second. This week was the summation of sunny rays and downpours, rip tides and gentle breezes. This week was a rainbow. A mix of emotions, experiences, and colors, but always special. Dad gave us a rainbow of memories in life and today he sent one to let us know that life’s salty and sweet would always be there, but so would he. Just when we needed him.
So Kermit, I think we’ve found it…The rainbow connection. The memories, my dad, and me.