What Should Have Been

I wrote this over the weekend.  Added to it last night (my anniversary).  Not often I write to my late wife but it seemed like I needed to say it:

This was the weekend . . . the vacation that shouldn’t have been.


At Disney waiting for lunch
At Disney waiting for lunch

Three years ago, I never thought this was possible, I wouldn’t even have contemplated going here with the kids.  The last time we did was – I have to be honest – less than thrilling.

Abbi (our oldest) noticed it first.  The walking . . . moving all through the park at Disneyland and probably walking 5-6 miles in the day, we all realized something: you wouldn’t have done this.  Waiting in line, standing for 45 minutes at a time, taking roller coasters for God’s sake!  None of that was your idea of a vacation.  Oh, sure, when we only had Abbi and Hannah, we came to Disneyland with them . . . and the girls both remembered that over the weekend.  They didn’t remember it fondly, like you would have.    They remembered your complaints about how hot you were; how tired you were; how much you argued with your folks; how you didn’t want to wait for the fireworks.

They reminded me again when we went to the beach.  Abbi wasn’t certain she’d enjoy the beach at all.  But at the end of the day we’d been there for hours.  I stood knee-deep in the ocean next to her and she stood there, looking at the waves until she caught me looking at her . . . then she grinned from ear-to-ear like when she was a little girl again.

Beach 1Noah and Sam loved the day like it was the first time they’d seen the water or the sand.

We all said it again . . . it was a day you would never have spent hours and hours at the beach with no purpose or thought.  Just the idea of running around.  I let the kids dictate the day and it made me insanely happy to see them so joyous.  That’s the word, too, joyous.

We spent so much time that, although I was keenly aware of our anniversary – mine and the kids’ now – approaching…the kids almost didn’t realize what day it was.  They had so much fun that was enjoyment and reckless abandon that they didn’t have time to be sad or melancholy.  They just had pure enjoyment.

That was my intention, too.

I love the kids more than anything.  It’s been hard to realize that we are having tons of fun and enjoying ourselves and then realizing that our fun is completely opposite to the lives we led even three years ago.

It’s not that we never had fun with you, quite the opposite.  But we realized after everything was finished that we’d chosen to do things that you would not have chosen to do.  This was the vacation that we never would have taken three years ago.  We’ve crossed that divide, the kids and I, where enjoyment without you is possible without thinking there was some seismic shift in the world.

Disney 1I’m sorry that we don’t have you here.  But I am also willing to say that we enjoyed ourselves in spite of that, and it didn’t cross any of our minds that we were doing this without you.  This was our first family vacation – the new family, the family without a Mom and wife . . . and we didn’t even realize it until the end.  Sure, I took the kids hoping to avoid the sadness of the day, that was the idea.

This was the vacation that wasn’t supposed to be.  What should have been was celebrating a normal anniversary.  Instead, it was a bigger day.

But I am thrilled to know that the kids and I can have enjoyment.  We love each other and had very fond memories of you and our last trip.  But we also realized that we are moving forward.  We knew it was coming . . . it just came with more of a whimper than a bang.

I love you and miss you, my sweet angel.  And we’re all okay.  Never thought I’d be happy with okay…but we’ve achieved being a normal family, even if it’s a bit broken.

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