I have been waiting for this for a long time. Donny has had visits, but I haven't. So have some of Melissa's friends. But not me. I have been told by some that I wasn't ready.
First of all, before I tell you about the visit, I need to tell you about something that Donny said while we were on the BEAUTIFUL beach on St. John Island. Trunk Bay. We were standing in the water and he said "What if our plane crashed and we are REALLY in heaven?" (yes, it was THAT beautiful). I said "if we were in heaven, Melissa would be here!"
Trunk Bay, St. John's Island
I had a dream Monday night that we were on an airplane. I was looking out the window and saw a plane (I thought it was our plane - like I was having a vision of what was going to happen to our plane) - it was going through some really bad turbulence. Then our plane started shaking really bad, and started to fall. I don't remember crashing though. The next thing that happened in the dream was we were getting off the plane. There was a long line of people waiting for the people getting off the plane. Somehow, I KNEW Melissa would be in that line. I looked down the line of people and told Donny "THERE SHE IS!" When we got to her, I hugged her, told her I loved her and I missed her and she hugged me and told me she loved me. Then I stepped back and said "But Nick isn't here..." (like I realized at that moment that I could never have both my kids together at the same time again...made me VERY sad)...she said "it's ok Mom." Then she was showing us around, but I don't remember much of what she was showing us. The one thing that I remember is when we got off the plane and I saw her, she was surrounded by a bunch of people who seemed to be friends, and she was laughing. She looked SO good. Happy.
This picture reminds me so much of how she looked in the dream...
So I talked about this dream being a "visit". Donny and I believe that when a dream is so vivid, so REAL, that you can feel the hugs, the kisses, HEAR their voice...that is a VISIT, not a dream.
I could FEEL her hug. I could HEAR her telling me she loved me. (Just like the dream "visit" Donny had when he told her he missed her, and she was crying and she said "I miss you too".) I could be a happy person if she visited me EVERY night. That would help me get through those days that I am missing her so badly that I want to be WITH her. On the other hand, it's really hard to get out of bed when you get a visit. I was in bed until 9:30 that morning...trying to get back into the dream. I wanted to stay there. (Can't you hear her laughter in this picture? I can. This is one of my favorite pictures with Melissa!
Had to share that first. Now for some sad news...our longtime close family friend, Howard Burger, passed away early this morning. If you go to the archives of the blog (back to December of 2008, one of Melissa's last posts) Melissa talks about Howard. He was a longtime volunteer at Hospice of Dayton. I also invited him to Moraine Meadows every year for Veteran's Day. He was a veteran of WWII. In the Navy. He always told the kids the story of when his ship sunk - he, along with many other crew members, were in the water for some time. They had been trained that if you were ever in the water to kick off your boots, otherwise you would sink. They were rescued by another ship and when he got on board, a high ranking officer (don't remember the rank), offered him his shoes...they were two sizes two small, but he took them - he said "you NEVER refuse an officer". The kids loved his stories. He loved being around the kids. We loved "Uncle Howard". He was an amazing man.
We love you Howard. You will be sorely missed!
Like the last post, and like Melissa often did, the rest of this post will be pictures with captions.
July was an incredibly busy month. Summer is good for me. (and add a visit from Melissa...priceless!)
We went on another cruise, this time to the Southern Carribbean. With the same friends from last year, Curt (Mange) and Mary, and their friends Beth and Bruce. Now officially "cruise buddies". Will more than likely find ANOTHER cruise next year, although Donny says he can't imagine having more fun than we did this year. We'll see.
In Puerto Rico, getting ready to depart.
We flew into Puerto Rico. Our first port was St. Thomas. After getting off the boat, we took a cab to the other side of the island to catch a ferry to St. John's. When we got to St. John's we took ANOTHER cab to Trunk Bay. Taxis are pretty inexpensive, and although it took us almost an hour to get there, it was DEFINITELY worth it. Most beautiful beach ever. Almost heaven...
This is on the beach at Trunk Bay. Donny & Mange talking in the water...do you see the heart in the clouds? How about the angel? I wish I could outline both of them. I saw them right away - I KNOW Melissa and Courtney sent them to their dads...
Donny & Curt snorkeling. I snorkled with them, but somebody had to take the picture!
The second day, we were at sea - no ports. Headed to our next port, Barbados. Almost to the equator!
We went to a beach with a bar called the Boatyard. There was a pier with a diving platform and a rope to swing into the water. All the guys did it - OF COURSE they wouldn't let Donny show them up (he did it first). There was also a trampoline in the water for diving. Free drink at the bar...it was kinda fun. (also armed police to protect us on the beach. I guess to protect us from all the locals trying to sell us their wares...
Donny LOVES monkies. Monkey shows, monkey cards...now REAL monkeys.
Couldn't pass this pic up...
Donny - first to swing on the rope...
...and yes, I fell for the locals sales pitch. Went out on this little rickety boat to snorkle over a shipwreck (sunk purposely for a reef), and to snorkle with sea turtles. $20. I couldn't pass it up.
Definitely worth it! (And I didn't go alone - Beth went too!)
Pics from the boat
One of the sea turtles I was swimming with. This was was on the floor of the ocean. They would swim up close enough to touch them, then they would swim away. It was pretty awesome.
That's me snorkeling over the shipwreck...
Next stop, St. Lucia. Not our favorite stop. We didn't pick a very nice beach (I was so unimpressed, I didn't even take ONE picture.) It was right next to one of the SANDALS Resorts, but it was $100 to get a day pass. Didn't want to do that...so we went back to the boat and spent most of the day there!
Pigeon Island - the beach I wouldn't recommend
Our next port was St. Kitts. LOVED it there. Decided not to take the locals advice this time and headed for the Marriott. It was on the Atlantic side of the island, so the water was a lot rougher, not as blue-green, but still beautiful. Had access to the pool, bar, restaurant and restrooms. Very nice.
AND a massage on the beach...$20. It was a great day.
Couldn't pass up a photo of these two butterflies. She was there with us.
One of our many cab drivers. Took this photo because his name was Donny!
Our masseuse told Mary that we should put flowers in the ocean for our daughters.
So we did.
Here's to you Melissa and Courtney!
That's me. Getting a massage. On the beach. Ahhhhhhh......
...and of course you're supposed to drink fluids after a massage.
So I had a Miami Vice...
Found a jewelry store with this sign outside. Donny's mom's maiden name is Rado.
I'd get him a watch...but didn't have an extra $500 on me at the time...
nice quiet beach on St. Kitts
Group photo before we left St. Kitts
And our last stop, St. Maarten. Wow. Donny was looking forward to this for six months. And he wasn't disappointed.
The beach at St. Maarten - closest beach to the boat. Mary, Bruce and Beth stayed there
While Donny, Curt and I went to Maho Beach. Sunset Bar & Grill. Right next to the St. Maarten Airport...where planes come in to land over the beach
Scary, but pretty cool too.
Me. (posing) So I can show you how I took the incredible video of Donny & Curt, hanging onto the fence while the jets took off. Crazy. Or just plane (HA!) stupid.
I did THAT so I wouldn't get sand blasted for a second time. I was covered with sand. HEAD TO TOE. So I hid behind the wall when the planes took off.
...can't say that they weren't warned....
but they did it anyway...
It was AMAZING. Donny wants to go back again. Next cruise, St. Maarten will definitely be one of our stops!
and some random shots during the week...
turned down your bed every night and left cute towel art!
Beth, Bruce and Pedro
Curt, Mary & Pedro
Our cab driver in St. Maarten - George. Notice the FORT bracelet...
Dinner first night...
Us and Pedro - I think he was a little riled up here...
there is a story that goes with this picture. Last year, Mary & Donny (the planners) BOTH brought the itinerary to breakfast the first morning. They wanted us all to go to the meeting telling us what to do for the day. Mange said "I'd rather go to the bar." I said "I'd rather go to the casino". We decided that Donny and Mary could go to the meeting. So on the way back to our rooms (Mary was going to take a shower) she said "When are you going to meet me in the shower?" .... Whoops. We laughed pretty hard, and that was just the first day. So I had to get a picture of them in the shower...
...more towel art...
back in Puerto Rico, tour of Old San Juan.
a kiosk with little girls clothes and "stuff", in the Mall in Puerto Rico.
called PRETTY GIRL. Another sign from Melissa...
ALREADY looking forward to the next cruise....
Got home and got a visit from Ang and Bennett. That's Bennett working on the laptop.
He's so smart!
Stopped in to see Moraine Meadows (and get a picture before they change the name!)
Me in MY library! I miss this building, the library, and especially all my friends from MM.
(miss you Jackie!) Some great memories here!
Good friend and former softball coach, Tom Franz inducted into the Dayton Metro Softball Hall of Fame...with our current softball coach!
and of course, can't have a post without pictures of the boys.
PopPop took them out to get their backpacks for school!
Hard to believe Andrew will be starting Kindergarten!
Melissa would be so proud!
Another long post. I apologize. Got to motivate myself sometimes to get things done. Then when I get started, I can't stop.
Next post ~ Tuesday, August 20.
See you then.