In December 2016 my son and I traveled to Florida for Christmas. It was the first holiday season after losing four family members over a period of 8 months and we needed a break. We saw this as a great opportunity to share a joyous occasion with family and visit friends we hadn’t seen in a while. It seems to have become a tradition, having made the same trip the past two years, as well.
The morning I flew into Tampa I had so many plans for the day, mainly things to keep me on the go around town. I remember still being at a place where I had to stay busy just and keep my mind occupied and away from a sad place. My really good friend picked me up at the airport early in the morning and we went to eat, when I shared my plans for the next few weeks. My mind was racing, and I was rushing through breakfast because I had a schedule that, according to me, couldn’t be broken.
After breakfast, my friend suggested going by this local beach we’d visited years before. I thought he was crazy because Florida beaches were destroyed by a hurricane just months prior and, well, what fun is there in that. Being an avid beach goer, he convinced me it was worth the trip, so I hesitantly agreed. In my head I was just trying to shift around my other plans for the day, totaling stressing about what I may not be able to do.
It was a foggy morning and we couldn’t see too far out, but the feel and sound of the breeze rippling the water was surprisingly wonderful. That was the only existing beauty because water had drastically receded from shore, the boardwalk had been ruined, and ocean and land life was displaced. It was somewhat depressing and metaphorically representative of my life at the time. Much of what I knew, loved, and enjoyed so much was gone.
We continued to talk and reminisce about happier times, and as morning passed sunlight brightened the day. We traveled over to another area of the beach, and though conditions were still somewhat grim there was a picnic area where a family hosted their daughter’s birthday party. There was also a small playground with swings, a slide, and a mini rock-climbing wall. My friend and I have always been a fun duo down for a good time, so of course we ventured over to the playground. At first, I thought I’d just swing for a few minutes, but at some point I must’ve started enjoying myself. I have to say, this was probably the first time in six months that I actually laughed. I laughed until I cried but these tears were of joy rather than pain. I believe this was representative of my days ahead and I’m so happy my friend thought to capture the moment.
©2019 CSNelson, #dontforgetthehalf