We just got back from our annual beach vacation. A vacation my husband’s family has been taking for nearly four decades. A vacation that holds nostalgia of carefree childhood memories and stories I’ve now heard every summer for the twelve years I’ve been invited.
A vacation we missed one year when our sweet angel spent the summer in the NICU. A vacation where we took our sweet angel for the two beautiful summers he was with us on this Earth. A vacation where we took our angel on Earth for the first time last year to romp with his new cousins, and learn to ride waves, and build castles, and hunt for treasure with his grandpa.
A vacation that four summers ago I didn’t think I’d survive. Being there, in that perfect place, full of amazing memories, without my sweet angel, clutching to life with my broken husband beside me. I’d wondered if we’d last the week. I’d wondered if we’d last the year. I’d wondered if we’d last, period.
But here we are. Together. Home after another week at the beach.
And it was a beautiful week. One where our little angel on Earth ate way too much ice cream, and stayed up too late, and had more giggles come from his belly than I could count. A week where each and every day my sweet mother-in-law would speak of my angel in Heaven and the ways he was saying hello, or mention a memory she held so dear, or the importance he will always play in our memories there.
And he, as always, was so present. He was in the shining sun, and the cloud formations, and the smiles on the kids’ faces. He was with us, as he always is, as we celebrated each other, and celebrated him.
We let the kids fly a special kite during family photos in his memory, and I know he was sitting on those wings laughing as they carried him through the air. He was running along with the other four, feet wet and dirty in the sand, like a six-year-old boy should be on a beach vacation.
And for the first time, in a long time, I truly appreciated these moments. Moments with my family, on our beach, with our traditions. Even though life has been really hard, and we miss our little man so, so much, we are still going to our beach, and holding so tightly to what really matters – each other. And I don’t ever, ever, want to let that go.