Tuesday, August 7, 2012

HEAVEN


I think we have an idea what Melissa is enjoying in heaven…we had a piece of it on our recent vacation.  We went on our first cruise with one of Donny’s fraternity brothers and his wife (Curt  “Mange” and Mary Clifford).  Haven’t
Seen them but once a year at Homecoming at Wilmington…until last year.
Their daughter, Courtney, died of ovarian cancer a year ago February.  She was 27.  Too young too.  We have a lot in common. 
Actually, our daughters had a lot in common too.  Both very outgoing, athletic, energetic and competitive.  Always played (or fought) to win.
They were GREAT travelling companions (I hope they felt the same way about us!)

The cruise was to the Carribbean – Grand Turk Island (Turks & Caicos), Half Moon Cay (private island owned by Carnival Cruise lines) and Nassau.

My favorite – Half Moon Cay.  I am not an ocean swimmer.  I’m an ocean wader.  Ankle deep.  Don’t like swimming where there are fish bigger than me that might want me for lunch. At Half Moon Cay, I felt like I was swimming in a POOL!  The water was beautiful.  Did a little snorkeling there too.  We were in the water with Mange and Mary and I said “I think we have
An idea what Melissa and Courtney get in heaven.  Only they get it EVERY day.  Forever. 

I can honestly say that this was the first time in three years that I didn’t think of anything for an entire week.  We had fun every day.  Seven days.
It CAN happen.  And the nice thing?  We could talk about our daughters
As much as we wanted.  And we did.  But we got to know EACH OTHER too.

Funny story.  What we found out was Mary and Donny are a lot alike.  Both organizers.  Both keep very busy all the time.  The first morning at breakfast in the dining room, Donny & Mary BOTH brought the itinerary for the day (they put an itinerary for the day under your cabin door every morning).  As they were reading over the itinerary, they both got excited about a meeting in the Paladium (theatre) at 9:45 – it was all about all the activities for the day.  They thought we really needed to go to the meeting…
Mange said “I’d rather go to the bar”.  I said “I’d rather go to the casino.”
So it was decided that Donny and Mary would go to the meeting and plan our day.  As we were returning to our rooms, Mary turned around and said
“What time did you want to meet me in the shower?”  Needless to say, we all stopped in our tracks, looked at Mary with our mouthes dropping – What the…?????  And laughed until our stomachs hurt.  One of those “why did I say that” moments. 
It was a great start to a great week.  And it got better every day. 

I can honestly say that I didn’t think that a week like that would ever happen again. 
What I know is that while I will never stop missing Melissa, EVER, and the pain of not having her here will never go away, I know that there will be good days woven into the bad days.  Sometimes bad moments woven into good moments. 

The timing of this vacation was perfect.  With the approach of fall, which Melissa LOVED LOVED LOVED, I have a little ache in my heart when the leaves start changing.  It’s painful knowing that we will never share the beauty of a fall day again in my lifetime.  Rugby matches, football games, Halloween.  Fall walks.  I love the fall too…but with the arrival of fall, the holidays are not far behind.  I’m pretty sure that Nov/Dec/Jan will never be the same for me.  Donny and I will celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with Nick, Mere and the boys in some way…because we are making memories for our grandsons.  And I want them to be happy memories.  But those three months bring back some very painful memories.  No matter how hard you try,
Every day, really beginning with October 19, JP’s birthday, brings back a memory.  Flashbacks.  So I do as much as I can do, but it isn’t much.
I’m thinking about maybe doing Christmas cards this year…but even thinking about it is hard.  Really.  Will just have to wait and see how I’m feeling then.

On the Compassionate Friends page on Facebook, they posted a comment from a newly bereaved mom.  She is wondering if she will ever “get better”.  Over 200 responses from people who have lost a child or children…and one really hit home with me.  Her daughter died 28 years ago.  She said “in the beginning I had a hard time just getting out of bed…after a while, I realized that all I had to do was deal with each day, one day at a time.  I couldn’t face a lifetime without her”….wow.  That is exactly how I feel… I can’t face a lifetime without her…so I will take ONE DAY at a TIME.  And get through each day the best I can (until I see her again!)…that doesn’t make a lifetime seem so overwhelming…sometimes I might even get through more than ONE day.  A little slice of heaven is good for the soul…especially when  a piece of your heart is missing…

And HERE is a little slice of heaven…


                             After dinner drinks...lemoncello...yum!
                               Heaven...on the beach
          Disembarking...onto Grand Turk Island
 My masseuse, Megan, who I found out lived in Centerville (a few miles from Kettering!)
      Nope, this is not a pool...the beach at Half Moon Cay.  Heaven.
 Mange and Mary with our waiter Oneisimo (from Honduras)
 In the disco for 1972 night (the 3 1972 graduates)...we were the only ones there...funny!
 Even had a library on the ship....heaven for a librarian!
 Enjoying Ft. Lauderdale before heading home...
Donny and our "former" neighbor Mike (his mom and dad are still our neighbors.

Now the Marriott on Ft. Lauderdale beach.  Formerly...I can't remember. But it is the same hotel we stayed in with the kids in the summer of 1982.  Donny worked for NCR at the time and had to go to Ft. Lauderdale on business.  Instead of flying, he decided that he would take all of us and we would drive to Florida.  He had never been there, and was VERY excited to see the ocean for the first time.  At the time, we had a Fairmont station wagon. Silver woody wagon (if you are as old as we are, you know what a woody wagon is)...NO air conditioning.  in the 60s and 70s, not all cars had AC.  
Melissa was around 3 1/2, Nick was probably 18 mos then.  No car seats either.  
So we are driving to Florida, and Donny decides that we can drive straight through.  He wants to GET THERE.  Fort Lauderdale.  That is a 19-23 hour drive straight through.
With a 3 year old and a 1 year old....When I took over the driving, I told him we WERE stopping to spend the night some where.  The kids needed to sleep AND needed baths.
So we stopped at the King Frog Hotel in Georgia.  I think you can still find it on I-75. We got there around midnight, Donny called for a wake up call at 4 am.  Really.  He wanted to get back on the road ASAP.  So the kids got a bath, and about 4 hours of sleep.  Good enough for Donny.  Of course we couldn't stop for breakfast because we had donuts in the car, they could eat those.  About the time we got on the Florida turnpike, Nick started looking a little green.  He was sitting on my lap, cuddling and gurgling....and he threw up.  All over me.  All of our luggage was packed on top of the car.  All I had IN the car was an extra pair of jeans.  Long jeans.  And we were headed for Ft. Lauderdale...in JULY.  We pulled off the road, I changed clothes on the side of the road, put the puked on clothes in a bag and put on jeans. With no AC in the car...
No one was happier to get to the hotel in Ft. Laud than ME.  
We had an awesome room with a view of the ocean.  Donny was working every day, I was at the pool every day with the kids.   With two adorable towheads, I had no trouble making friends at the pool... two couples - one from Pittsburg, one couple from England, AND the pool boy who sold suntan lotion by the pool.  Heaven.  During that week, the aircraft carrier INDEPENDENCE was in port in Ft. Lauderdale.  It was anchored about 3 miles out on the beach.  The two couples I met invited me and kids to go out and tour the aircraft carrier.  All we needed was a sailor to give us a pass, which we had no problem finding.  They thought we could get there on a helicopter, which would have been awesome, but instead we went over on a Liberty boat.  Standing only.
With a one year old and a three year old.  But I did have four people to help me.  It was incredible.  Unfortunately Melissa and Nick were too young to remember, except for the photos I took.  I remember though.  
That trip ended up being a TWO week vacation because Donny had to work there an extra week.  A great vacation for a family with no money to take their kids on a vacation!  
The kids remember I KNOW because we talked about this vacation so much when they were little.  The vacation they remember was our 3 1/2 week trip out west.  Driving.
But that's ANOTHER post.  

And of course, a little Drew and Max are good for the soul too....

                                        Andrew
                            Max 

Retirement begins next Monday.  Teachers go back the 13th.  I will go to the breakfast, 
they will go to their buildings after breakfast...I will do whatever I feel like doing...for the first time in 26 years.  It feels good.

If you have kids going back to school, remember that those kids (1, 2, 3 or however many are driving you crazy at the end of the summer) are going back to a classroom with 20-25 (or more) kids...just like YOUR kids.  You had a couple to deal with, teachers have 10 times that...remember that when you think teachers have a cushy job. 

OH...and one more thing.  I was on the softball team again this year.  Only played if we didn't have enough players...our team will never forfeit a game because we don't have enough players!  
They did need me last week, so I played.  First base.  (When you are married to the coach, you get to play any position you want.  First base is the only position I can play).
So fast forward to the bottom of the sixth.  We are ahead, 8-0.  I get my first hit of the game (I was 1 for 3).  Two batters later, I am on third base.  Donny is coaching first base. Two outs.  
Here is how Donny coaches ME at third base.  "You really look good.  You have nice legs.  etc etc"...he forgets to tell me that I can't step on home plate.  
So I don't just STEP on home plate when the next girl up gets a GREAT hit...I JUMP on home plate with BOTH feet.  The umpire yells "OUT".  Donny looks at him and yells "WHO IS OUT??? They didn't even make the play at first!"  He looks at Donny (we know the umpire) and he says "Pam is out.  She stepped on home plate."  
Fortunately the team we were playing did not have a good last inning, and we won the game.  Actually, won the league.  And if we win again next Tuesday, we win the tournament too...no thanks to me.... (but I AM still playing at 56...something to be said for THAT)...

And enjoy the fall.  

I'll be back.....

(Love you and miss you EVERY day Melissa....)

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