Saturday, July 25, 2009

Family Cruise- Good for the Soul

Family Cruise

Not all thing are bad…No sir they are not.

Some things are fabulous.

We took a vacation with my entire immediate family.

Seven days we traveled together, all twelve of us…yep, count it again all twelve of us.

Now when some people hear the word family vacation they run and hide, start to scream, pop a valium. But not me…I welcomed it with open arms.

In the entire seven days there was not one harsh word spoken, not one fight or disagreement…I kid you not…..

I think I have a fabulous family…a special family…and for that I am grateful.

This trip/cruise was a Christmas present from my parents. This was before any of us knew the word Intracranial Hypertension even existed.

I am sure there are those that thought it was foolish on my part to even consider going on this cruise given the state of my health these days. Lets face it, my shunt is blocked, my head hurts horribly everyday, it takes enormous willpower just to get out of bed each day and I am facing brain surgery yet again.


But how, as a mother, do you tell your two little girls that because Mommy is sick they can’t go on a trip they have been counting down for over six months? How do you take away a six year olds daily habit of crossing off the days on her calendar to count it down? How do you take away the excitement in their voices as they dream about the ship and new places and people they will discover?

I will tell you how…..It’s simple…..You don’t.

There is no medical reason for me not to go. It will not harm me to “put off” my surgery by a week and wait it out. I have asked my Doctors, I have been smart about it no doubt.

Was the cruise a seven day escape from pain for me…haha, I wish.

To be honest, it took every ounce of energy I had and ever knew I had just to make it through. My head hurt worse that week than it has hurt in a very long time. But as a Wife, Sister, Aunt, Sister-n-Law, Daughter and most importantly a Mother I did my best not to let it show.

Now, don’t get me wrong I had a great time, I truly did.

I walk away from that cruise with memories that I will always cherish and that I would not take back for anything in this world.

Piper- She got to snorkel for the first time ever. She was a pro. We did a snorkeling excursion in Belize and as she and I were paddling through the waters are heads lost in the world below; she reaches her still tiny hand in mine to grasp it. For the longest time we swam hand in hand taking in all the beauty that the sea has to offer. I am not sure if it is possible to cry under water but I wonder if I did. I never wanted to let that small little hand go.

Sydney- She truly is becoming her own person. After a long day in the sun and after her shower she wanted me to curl her hair. After curling and styling her hair she asked if it would be okay to but a little bit of make-up on. We stand out on the balcony of our stateroom, just she and I watching the endless ocean and for no reason at all she turns to me and says “I love you Mama” then looks out into the setting sun. It takes my breath away. What a magnificent creature and person she is becoming.

My nieces- They make me smile, they make me laugh. I am so proud of them all. They show such compassion and grace. There jest for adventure makes me want to try new things too.

Miss Alli- She is so sweet…do they get any sweeter? Even though she is a teenager she always takes the time to love on her parents and grandparents no matter who is around. She does not think twice about it. My two girls idolize her and I cannot imagine a better teenager for them to look up to than her! When we were in Cozumel she took Piper under her wing out in the water without anyone asking or expecting her to. If you ask Piper what she did in Cozumel she will tell you that she “hung out with Allie” and while saying this she has a huge grin on her face.

Miss Avery- This girl cracks me up!!!! She has me rolling in stitches all the time. She is so thoughtful and considerate of others. While in Cozumel we rented kayaks. What a riot that was. As we headed out it started to rain and I don’t mean just a sprinkle I mean a downpour kind of rain. I was in a kayak with Syd and Avery was in one with Anna. As the rain was pouring down on us we collided. OH how we all laughed. If you could have seen Avery laugh at that very moment, with the rain gliding down her face. I wish I could have captured that moment of pure happiness and kept it forever, it was priceless.

Miss Anna- She has to be one of the most loving children I have ever met and the most stylish. She always asks me how I am feeling, now how many ten year old’s do you know that do that? But that is just who she is. She cares. I got the chance to soar in the sky with Anna. We went parasailing together. I will never forget as we were gliding through the air her pure amazement at the world below. She said over and over how quiet it was and I could tell she was in awe. I am so grateful to have experienced that with her. It is a memory I have captured in my heart forever.

Miss Addison- If I had just a little bit of her energy then I would be on cloud nine rip roaring ready to go! If you are ever in a bad mood all you need to do is be around her and you can’t help but instantly be happy. Each night in the dining room the serving staff would have “dance numbers” they would do and of course diner participation is a must. Our Miss Addison was the star of the show! Seeing her each night fearlessly get up and dance (something that I would never have the courage to do) was a delight. She is the courage I wish I had.

Kristie- She is the sister I wish I had. She is a lot of things I wish I was. She is confident, outgoing, easygoing and funny. She planned our Roatan excursion and what an amazing one she found for us. From the beautiful scenery, mangroves, fishing village, iguanas, monkeys and history it was there. One thing I did learn about her is that she truly takes the culture of the country/island in. While in Roatan we saw three young boys fishing in a small village. Their fishing pole consisted of nothing more of string and a hook, but we saw them catch a fish. It was seeing her reaction to this most innocent of task that I realized her passion for the culture of the people and their way of life. The three little boys proudly showed off their fish for us and she and I both took pictures of them. Now, looking back at the picture, I can appreciate just what she saw at that moment.

Trey- He is my hero. He has been for a long time. I know if I ever need anything all I have to is call him and he will be there. Can I ever repay him for what he has given me? probably not? Roulette…nobody wins at roulette except for Trey!!!! Seriously… He wins not once, not twice but three separate sit down times. We all worried before the trip that he would get seasick, god awful seasick. We told him that you hardly ever feel the ship move. Famous last words. I have never been on a cruise ship that rocked as much as this one did!!!! Thank God though, he was fine. See, we told him he would be fine, and he was.

Mom- My Best Friend, my biggest cheerleader no doubt. Without her I cannot imagine how the earth could even spin. She truly hates all things relating to water, bless her heart. On our Roatan excursion part of it was to take a tiny boat to see the mangroves. What none of us expected was that we had to venture Oceanside to see them, and to top it off the teeny, tiny boat had no life preservers (which Mom was quick to point out) I will admit now that it even made me nervous and the fact that coming back our boat driver collided into a sea wall did not help matters!! The whole time we were on that little boat all I could think about was “Is Mom ok?” I asked her several times. It was that experience worrying about her that made me more grateful for her than ever. We survived just fine, and the smile on her face was worth a thousand pictures rolled into one. Mom and I spent a sail away on an upper deck together while the kids played in the pool and the other adults talked. We did not talk, we just sat. I wonder what she was thinking? I know that I was thinking I am so lucky to be loved so greatly by this magnificent women.

Dad- What a tremendous figure of a Man and Father he is. He may appear tough and straight forward but I have learned to know better. We have not always had a “rosy” kind of relationship but time has brought an understanding. He is one of the most generous, understanding, compassionate, and loving people you will ever meet. When my Dad tells me everything will be okay, I know it will be. I love to see him smile. At times it seems like a rare occasion!! On this trip he smiled a lot and I loved it. His grandchildren truly make him smile. I wish could have captured every time one of his grandchildren climbed into his lap on this trip and the bear hug he wrapped around them. I wish I could have captured the contentment on their faces of being in his arms and the smile and love on his face. My only regret for this trip is that I did not get to jet ski with him. We had done that on a previous trip and I know he loved it. It has really bothered me since coming home that we did not get to do that, but upon further thought I have a resolution. Details Later!!!! I love my dad more than he will ever know, more than I have ever told him. This trip brought about in so many ways how I am so like my father….I am proud to say I am just like him..I consider that to be a compliment.

Wes- Oh my!!! We live, we laugh, we love, we fight. We see the world so easily together it is almost scary. We had so much fun on this trip! Since January our world has been turned upside down. Everything that we thought we were working towards has been put on hold, now it is just a struggle to get by day to day. He is there. He has stayed by my side holding my hand all the way. I know it must be hard, I can’t imagine being him. We saw this vacation as a break from the harsh reality we call day to day life. We saw this as a time to connect with each other without medical decisions. We saw this as a time to enjoy Sydney and Piper and delight in their happiness. We had a balcony stateroom and it was fabulous. Wes and I spent a lot of time there. We spent a lot of time on that balcony just talking and a lot of time just there in silence, just being. There is something about the setting sun over the endless ocean and being with the one you truly love that does wonders for the soul.

Overall, it was an amazing vacation. We visited Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize and Roatan. I was in paradise with all the people that mean the world to me.

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