What I Did (& Learned) On My Summer Vacation
Back to school season coincided with my getaway, reminding me of those first day essays on "What I Did On My Summer Vacation." Those tomes eased the transition from leisurely, fun months to the serious business of learning, letting students download their news in one fell swoop so the teacher could get on with the real lessons. In hindsight, I think a more useful essay would have been "What I Learned On My Summer Vacation." Here are my versions of each. What I Did. I just returned from a wonderful week in Aruba with my husband, Mark. It was our first vacation sans children in 24 years that was longer than a weekend jaunt. We had no schedule to follow, including our own. We slept, swam, read, napped, floated, explored, snoozed, read, swam to the bar/restaurant in the pool, read, and then went to sleep. Days 2-8 were more of the same. Kind of like the "wash, rinse, repeat" instructions on shampoo bottles.
What I Learned. I learned, once again, that tough times end and valuable lessons are gained. Sounds simple, but when we're consumed by hardship, when we're in the eye of the storm, often there is no end to imagine. Even worse, some endings are unimaginable because they are so horrific, typically our worst fears of loss.
Mark and I just endured the most difficult two years of our lives. In August 2008, our son, Ethan, became seriously ill with an incurable disease. Ethan braved multiple hospitalizations, surgeries, doctors, pain, more pain, and ultimately withdrew from college. The good news is that Ethan is doing well, taking courses and working part-time.
Simultaneously, the economy disintegrated as our medical bills escalated. Mark and I, both self-employed, were fortunate not to have felt the economic impact until late 2009, but when it finally hit us, it felt more like a hurricane than a tropical storm (I'm still in Caribbean mode). Fortunately, as the dust is settling and our clients are adjusting to new economic realities, business has picked up considerably.
So this is what I learned (again): life isn't always a bowl of cherries, that sometimes all we have are the pits, but then we move on to something new and different, even better, maybe another fruit, perhaps one that doesn't have pits, like coconuts or bananas (there's Aruba again). I got through the past two years in one piece. Sure, I'm a bit tattered and worn, but still standing, and in some ways, better for it. Heck, for the first time in my life, I proudly strutted on the beach in my bubbe bathing suit alongside the itzy bitzy teenie weenie bikinis. Good for them. Good for me.
During our first foray into the beautiful green and blue Caribbean, Mark and I marveled at where we were geographically and otherwise. Ethan was home taking care of the pets, and no one needed to take care of Ethan. This wasn't just a vacation, it was a celebration.
Like the sea, life ebbs and flows (final Aruba references, I promise). Sometimes it's easy to ride the waves, and other times they crash over us. Two years ago our tidal wave hit. In Aruba last week, the waters were still.
That's what I learned on my summer vacation. Ahhh...