Friday, August 24, 2012

Time is a gift

I would like to share with everyone my most recent dLife column with some photos from the trip.  I had not been up to this "land" in 7 years.  The older boy is my daughter's boyfriend, Logan, who has been part of our family for the last three years and always will be.  Joey is so grown up in the other photo (they are screwing around, proposing with a clam.  Joey was surprised at the engagement) Enjoy the read.
Today I find myself sitting in a van for a 4-hour road trip home from a camping adventure in upper Michigan. What’s my point, you ask? I’ll get to that.
In 1992 I married Tom, the father of all three of my children. We divorced in 2005. In the years of our marriage we pitched in with his family to purchase a piece of property just north of the Wisconsin border. Our campers, canoes, kayaks, and pudgy-pie makers waited for us to return each summer. I can still remember going up there before we got married, when Samantha was a baby, and so on. Our “married” selves went through a lot together, as many families do. We brought children into this world, we went through the horrible diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in our 3-year-old son, Jesse, and we went through the loss of him two years ago — together. Regardless of our marriage dissolving, that is something that bonds us forever.
This summer I was invited to join Tom and the kids on their annual pilgrimage (along with all of my ex-inlaws). Sound strange? It was anything but. The drive up, the stop to get the fireworks that I protest every year (he is famous for almost blowing us up in our lawn chairs), the sights along the way — everything was so familiar and right. I won’t lie to you, I was very nervous. Not about spending time with my ex-husband, that was the easy part. The hard part was going to be reliving so many Jesse memories in a place that holds many. To me those memories were fresh because I hadn’t set foot there since he passed away.
On Saturday morning after a cup of coffee by the fire with my ex-sister-in-law, Sue, I laced up my running shoes and threw on the iPod to head out on a nice 4-mile run. River Road is one of those roads where you can go miles without seeing a car or another human being, but tend to see some deer, turkey, or other wildlife. As I jogged down the road I smiled up at the clouds, breathed in the air, and said a thank you to Jesse for bringing our family together to share this brief moment in our lives. As I said it I stretched out my arms, palms up to embrace the feeling — just at that moment the slight breeze changed to a strong wind and blew my hat right off my head. As I smiled and looked up again to let Jesse know I felt him, a majestic bald eagle swooped down above me in a graceful arc. I was happy to let the tears flow that I had held back just moments before at a memory of trying to change Jesse’s pump site so many years before in the camper.
As I walked back down the long, pebbled driveway to the sounds of the ever-so-grown-up kids riding the ATVs, laughing and yelling, I knew it was a moment to share with all of you. Remember to enjoy the moments you are given, because no matter how long you have with someone, that time is a gift. Life is too short to hate your ex, to be mad at your best friend for something they did years ago, or to not forgive someone who is just never going to agree with you on something. If Jesse can give you anything it is the gift of me reminding you today to show people you love them — even if it means braving your ex-husband’s pyrotechnic show that threatens your eyesight . That’s my point.