Bonjour, mes amis!
I missed you, my friends. I have been away from this site for far too long! I promised you I would come back from my vacation tanned, refreshed, and with the knowledge of new French words. I did come back tan. I actually tried to bring the sun back with me too but I haven’t mastered that superpower in the literal sense just yet. I did come back a bit more refreshed, and I am in the process of learning new French words this week as well. My new sweet friend, Maelle—my daughter’s French pen pal who is staying with us all week, has patiently obliged while I decode her words and imitate her beautiful French accent!
But that brief description doesn’t come close to describing the whirlwind that has been my life over the last two weeks! I’ll attempt to share my story…to show that there is a sunny side to look to.
My vacation with Prince Charming and our two royally fun teenagers was supposed to be based around a 7-day Caribbean cruise with my parents. We had planned it with them for over a year. My mom has not been in great health in recent years and since she was finally feeling like herself again, she wanted to take a cruise (her favorite thing to do in the world) with her grandchildren and give them an experience they would cherish forever. How could we argue with that! Since the ship sails out of Fort Lauderdale, we also scheduled a quick jaunt to Disney World first (one of our favorite places on the planet) and a short trip to Jupiter, FL to stay with my brother and sister-in-law and their two kids (whom we adore and miss every day).
So, with more suitcases than anyone should be allowed to drag through an airport, we headed out of snowy Upstate, NY on schedule, and flew to sunny Florida beaming the whole way.
After we touched down, some of what we planned, actually happened as planned.
Upon arrival into Orlando, FL—we spent one night at Downtown Disney, one day in Walt Disney World—Epcot to be exact, and one morning exploring the Boardwalk area on Disney property. This brief stay in Orlando was everything we had hoped for. Though after years of several days at the Disney parks, one was definitely not enough! But we were crunched for time, and Disney is expensive so we were thrilled to experience the magic of Disney again if even for one day. We had a blast. We have about 400 pictures on my daughter’s phone to prove it—some even taken with her selfie stick. If you don’t know what that is, google it. It’s the greatest invention ever—and it was the best $10 I’ve ever spent. Not so much because I wanted to be in so many of her pictures, but because she and my son had fun together taking pictures with it. Happy kids= happy adults!
However, I had been in touch with my parents during our time in Orlando. I knew my mom was having some problems with her back. Her health problems are too complex to go into here, but I will say that even though she’s a trooper in the best way possible, and I felt confident that her doctors would help get her pain under control, I was concerned. I wasn’t sure she’d feel well enough to travel much less enjoy herself on a ship so far away from home. I knew she and my dad desperately wanted to take this trip with us, as much as we wanted to take it with them, but after many calls and text from my siblings back home, I was beginning to fear she would not be better in time to meet us that weekend at the dock.
As we drove further and further south after our time in Orlando, our kids’ excitement grew and grew. They hadn’t seen their cousins in over a year and a half and they could not contain themselves. They were planning to cram as much fun into the short time we had with them as possible before the cruise. And I was just as excited. Spending time with our family at their beautiful home in the land of fun and sun was going to be perfect.
But the closer we got to their home, the more frequent the reports came from my dad and my siblings. My mom was in severe pain, like nothing she had experienced before. The doctors could not pinpoint the problem. They said it could be her kidneys, or her liver, or her spine. It could even be a muscle. With the cruise just a few days away, my dad needed to make a decision. It would be one thing if the doctors knew what was causing the pain, but they didn’t, and the thought of having my mom travel across the ocean with no access to a hospital, was just too risky. And so just like that, our cruise was cancelled.
Many asked me why my husband and I didn’t take the kids on the cruise anyway. For me this was never an option. This cruise was about my parents and the time we would all spend with them. The islands and the shows and the ship and the beaches were all just the amazing backdrop. I know we’ll take that trip with them again sometime, and it will be amazing. It will be worth the wait. 🙂
And so my husband and I (and our kids) were left to adapt.
We were already in Florida. My brother and sister- in law were so welcoming like they always are and would have wanted us to stay with them for a month if we could. And so just like that, our dream trip to the Caribbean turned into a stay with our beloved family in Florida.
I know. I know. It’s not like we had to settle for a cardboard box under a bridge in Siberia. We felt very blessed. And not just because our trip was not a total lost, but because over the next few days, the doctors figured out what was wrong with my mom and were able to take lessen her pain. She had fractured two vertebrate, one every week, due to medication she was on for another issue. Thankfully, now she is on the mend and on her way to feeling strong again.
And that brings me to my point.
Look to the sunny side.
Because my mom’s fractures happened when they did instead of while on the ship, she wasn’t stuck sailing in the middle of the ocean unable to get proper treatment. Instead she’s now recovering in the comfort of her home with her family nearby.
Because our cruise was cancelled, we were able to spend additional time with our Florida family doing things we hadn’t originally planned like visiting the Florida Keys, watching my nephew’s high school volleyball games, eating at their amazing restaurants, and going to our favorite beach. But most of all, we were able to experience their daily life in Florida. Since their kids had school that week, we did the school pick up, went to the grocery store, and cooked dinners at home. Our kids worked on their own homework and I did a small amount of work out on their patio in the warmth of the 80 degree air. It was a gift to experience normal life in their shoes (well flip-flips) and I must say I’ve wondered to myself more times than I care to admit, why do I live in the land of the snow when I could live in the land of the sun? Even their mundane daily grind is more enjoyable because it’s happening in such a bright, sparkly place!
Because we got a late start (about ten minutes) to the airport on our last day, we were caught in the worst traffic jam in recent memory. A horrific accident happened a mere ten minutes before on the Florida turnpike. As a result, we ended missing our flight and taking a later one. Although that made for a ridiculously long day in the airport, it also made me acutely aware that had we left the house on time, the alternative could have been so much worse.
Because we were no longer limited with our return date to NY by the schedule of the cruise, we were able to change the date of our flight home. Instead of missing the first few days with my daughter’s French pen pal, Maelle, we were able to get home in time to pick her up upon her arrival in NY. As a result, we spent an amazing Easter weekend with her and our extended family in our home town, sharing our traditions—including chocolate!
As the winter now comes to a close, and I think back on my time away, I realize I did bring the sunshine back home with me—the warm, positive, can- do mentality that it shines all over us when we allow it to.
And so I choose to look to the sunny side.
Manuscript drafts will get written. Writing deadlines will be met. Housework will get done. Kids will grow up and survive high school just fine. Bill will get paid. More days will be spent with my prince charming in warmer climates, and they may even involve boats. More laughing will happen even when not on vacation. Summer will be here soon…and yes there will finally be sun. Lots of it!
Thanks for checking in, my friends and for reading this crazy long post. I promise I’ll tone it back a bit next week. Until then though, keep writing, keep revising, and keep drafting. And no matter what point you are in your manuscript, remember you will make it a shining story one day. You just have to look to the sunny side. 🙂