This summer marks 10 years that my hubby and I said our “I Do’s”. Every year, we take a weekend away somewhere-just the two of us-to celebrate our years together. Hitting the 10 year milestone this year, we felt it was only appropriate to do something big. For the past year, we’ve been brainstorming places to venture away. We both love the water and the sunshine and decided on a popular tourist destination that we haven’t yet been to: Cancun, Mexico.
For months we planned this trip. We researched the best sites to see and places to visit during our stay. We greatly anticipated our getaway and I prepared by shopping for swimsuits and daydreaming about the long hours I’d spend laying out on the beach, soaking up the sun with a good book in hand. For an entire week I would cast away my worries and the stress of everything else going on in my life and just enjoy being carefree and having uninterrupted time with my husband. This vacation was all about us; it was about sun, fun and relaxation. And boy was I looking forward to it!
Late Friday night (a week ago) I kissed my kids good-bye and hopped on a plane with my other half to begin our week of Paradise. We arrived in Cancun Saturday afternoon…along with Andrea-a tropical storm.
We didn’t realize, at first, that a tropical storm was following us in. We’ve vacationed in the tropics before and have had storms come in, stay for a couple hours, and then head out. I figured this rain would be the same. So I wasn’t terribly concerned when we ventured out on a shuttle to the Sister Resort of where we were staying. While we were there, the rains came down harder and harder, so much that when we were ready to go back to our hotel, the shuttle driver refused to drive on the roads and told us we’d have to wait a couple hours or walk. We attempted to walk. Oh how foolish we were.
The roads were so flooded that we ended up taking off our shoes and wading in calf-deep water to find the public bus stop. We hopped on the bus and were SOAKED by the time we made it back to our hotel. We got a good laugh out of it. After all, the storm was sure to be over and in the morning I’d be laying on the beach sipping my (virgin) strawberry daiquiri and soaking up the sun.
Well, the morning came. But the sun did not. In fact, for the next 4 days it rained. It rained and it poured as Tropical Storm Andrea unleashed her fury on Cancun. At first, I decided that the rain was not going to hold me back from having fun. We booked our trip to see the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, followed by snorkeling at Xel Ha. But I have to admit, the rain really put a damper on everything. It was hard to relax and have fun with rain pounding down and blowing into my eyes. The wind, along with the rain, made it too cold to fully enjoy the experience in the water. There was supposed to be sunshine. I was supposed to be getting a suntan and taking naps in the hammocks. This was NOT how I envisioned my trip to be.
Still, we tried to have fun. We had to modify our original plans and we did have some fun. There were moments that the rain stopped and we were able to swim in the pool (under the gray clouds) or shop at the flea market. We took advantage of the hotel’s spa and got a couple’s massage and joined in the night life activities at the resort (all of which was indoors). But we also had many moments of despair as our plans were constantly changing and put on hold due to inclement weather. By Wednesday morning, the rain was so bad that I was sure a hurricane was coming. For the 2nd day in a row, our horseback riding trip had been cancelled as had most other trips because the storm was too debilitating to drive through. I laid in bed all morning, covers over my head as I cried about my ruined plans (and lack of sunshine!!!) We even debated throwing in the towel and coming home early. What was the point of staying through the storm?
That night was karaoke night in the hotel lounge. We walked down (through the rain) and met up with some other friends we had met the previous day at the pool. They asked if we had still planned on attempting the day trip we wanted to take to XPlor the following day.
“We just don’t see the sense in paying all that money to go just to be rained on,” Jeff explained.
“Yeah…we figured it was either be rained on at the hotel, or be rained on while doing something fun,” our new friend answered back.
I contemplated what she said. I looked outside to see that the rains had stopped and the trees were still. My brother, also known as “Weatherman Joe” (due to his obsession with tracking tropical storms), told me that by Thursday the storm should be making it’s way up to Florida. I wasn’t holding my breath, but I also knew that I couldn’t handle another depressing day in the hotel. And I was tired of cancelling trips!! Jeff and I briefly discussed the day trip and decided we’d take the chance and book XPlor for the next day. We had determined, by this point, that no hurricane was coming and the worst case scenario would be that we got rained on. Half of the day trip was swimming and rafting in caves anyway, so rain wouldn’t really make a difference. I decided that no matter the outcome, I was going to have a good attitude and make it a great day!
Thursday morning, for the first time since we had arrived (and our last full day in Cancun), we woke up to blue skies and the sun shining overhead. That put a huge smile on my face! We met our shuttle and journeyed to XPlor where we spent the day in sunshine with not a drop of rain! We ziplined, swam in caves, went on rafts through caves with stalactites and stalagmites and took a turn driving an all-terrain vehicle through caves and over bridges and mud. It was awesome. Had it rained, we still would have enjoyed the day because I told myself that were gonna have fun!! The sun was an added bonus!
I’ve thought about this vacation as a metaphor for my life. 10 years ago, I was on top of the world. I was madly in love, getting married and starting my new life. I had a perfect vision of what my life would be like. I had everything mapped out; I anticipated what was to come and daydreamed about what life would be like in the future. I never saw the storm coming. I never anticipated the heartbreaks that would come my way, the things I have had to go through over the past few years and even more recently, the past few months. I never imagined life to be this way and I have to admit, I wasn’t quite prepared for it. Tropical Storm Dementia has altered my course.
There have been times when I have resolved to stand strong and make the best of the situation. And there have been times when I have laid in my bed, covers over my head, and cried at the storm that was looming overhead. Last week was another reminder to me that when the storm comes, I need to buck up and make the best of it. Had I stayed in that hotel bed and continued feeling sorry for myself, I would have missed out on a fabulous day. There are moments now when I feel consumed with sadness. I admit that some days, it would be much easier to stay in bed than to face that dark cloud. But if I give up and let those feelings take over, I will miss out on making precious memories.
This morning I was sitting in my class at church when I saw my mom standing outside the open door of the room (we attend the same church building; but our services are at different times and our last hour of church overlaps their first hour of church…if that makes sense;) ). Mom knows exactly where to find me when she arrives and always likes to find me before she seats herself for her own service. She peered inside the room, saying “Cassandra? Is she here…Cassandra?”
I excused myself and went out to the hall to greet my mom. It warmed my heart to see her (after being a week away from her) and to see her smiling and genuinely happy to see me. My heart was filled with love for my mom and I gave her a hug and told her that I had missed her. In that moment, I felt so grateful that my mom is still here with me. Although the person she once was is fading away, she is still here and she is teaching me great lessons of patience, service and unconditional love. I am trying my hardest, each day, to rise above the storm.