Tuesday, August 16, 2011
A Long Journey
We went away this weekend on a short vacation with my extended family to the Poconos where my mom and her husband have been living. We only had to drive about 3 hours each way to get there and back, but it was light-years away from earlier family vacations when I was first sick.
There were 14 of us all together - 8 adults and 6 kids, sharing one house and all of our meals. We had a similar vacation together in the Adirondacks six years ago. In fact, I brought along a bunch of home movies and photo DVDs this weekend, and we watched a slideshow of that previous trip. As everyone else in the room exclaimed in delight and said, "Wasn't that the best vacation ever?" I just kept my mouth shut. That week stands out in my mind as the worst week of my entire life.
I was the sickest I have ever been, before or since. I had tried to warn my mother that I wasn't up to a full week with family, but she took it personally and insisted we come. By the evening of the first day there, I was plunging into the worst crash I have ever experienced. I spent three days in bed, not even able to read, doing nothing but lying in the dark with my eyes closed. I barely made it out of my room for meals. I tried to be personable, but I was just so horribly sick. I really thought I wouldn't survive the week. This was early in my illness when all of my family was in deep, deep denial about how sick I was, so they all just pretended everything was fine. It was a nightmare.
Contrast that to this past weekend...I had a great time and was able to participate in almost everything. I helped with meals, went to the beach with everyone, paddled my son's kayak, and played games with the kids. Sure, I still had to respect my limits - I took my daily nap, went to bed by 10 pm, and had to rest up a bit on Saturday morning after an active Friday - but I felt well enough to truly enjoy the vacation. And it is so wonderful to see my kids having so much fun with their cousins, building bonds that will last a lifetime.
The best part of all? Saturday night after watching some old home movies and telling stories of past escapades, we all laughed so hard there were tears pouring out of my eyes and I couldn't catch my breath. There is nothing more rejuvenating than laughing until your stomach muscles hurt! I felt as if I had my family back.
I have come a long, long way from those early years.