On Monday, I returned from a 10 day family vacation. Our friends let us borrow their RV and we drove through Utah and Idaho to visit family, attend a special event for my daughter, Maurina, and enjoy the great outdoors. One of the best parts of this was that my dad was able to join us in his fifth wheel (travel trailer) as well! We rarely get to vacation together these days because somebody has to be home with mom. But it was important to Maurina (and me) that we both be there, so my sister stepped up to the plate and took care of mom while we were gone. I'm so grateful to her and to our other caregivers for making this trip possible and taking care of mom while we were gone.
For the first time all summer, I was able to really relax and enjoy myself. Even while I was in Arizona, I was busy answering phone calls, regarding mom, every single day. Mom is constantly on my mind and I worry about her when I'm way. The days leading up to vacation were filled with stress and sadness for me (I've had a hard time shaking off this "down" feeling lately) but I was determined to relax and enjoy time away with my hubby and kids. As much as I worry, I know my dad worries even more being away, but the time away was good for both of us. For the first time in a long time, I saw my dad happy and enjoying himself. We talked, we laughed, we played games, we went fishing...it was almost like old times. Except we were missing Mom.
There were moments of reminiscing, remembering the trips we used to take when Mom was well. Sometimes I let myself daydream about what Mom would be saying or doing if she was still with us; things we did when she was with us. I imagine her playing with the kids or taking them on walks around the campground. I think about how she and I would've gone off to the scrapbook store while the guys were shopping at Cabela's or Camping World, like in times past. I picture her scolding us for not wiping our feet before walking inside the trailer. Times have changed and she is surely missed, but thankfully I was able to still have a good time and not dwell on the sadness that has been consuming me for the past few years. I kept my mind busy fishing and paddle boarding and laughing and making memories with my children.
For the first time that I can remember, I didn't want to come home from vacation. Usually, by the end of a long trip I'm ready to go home and sleep in my own bed and get back into a routine. This time, I really didn't want to come back home. It's hard to put it all into words, but coming home meant that it was back to reality; back to my routine of running here and there, of bathing Mom and watching her decline each day, wondering how much time we have left; the sadness envelopes me again. When I was away, I felt carefree and happy. Now, I get my daily reminder of what I've lost; what I am losing. It's a complicated thing to grieve for someone who is still living. I don't think it's something you can truly understand until you've experienced it firsthand.
Hard as it was to come back to reality, I was happy to see Mom again, to hug her and to kiss her and tell her that I've missed her. But seeing her also reminds me of just how much I miss her. This vacation was something I really needed, to refresh and reflect and to give me a new surge of energy to get through the next little bit with Mom.
Here are some pictures of our trip, for your viewing pleasure ;)