This morning we are packing the car with bags, a cooler, kids, dogs, and sand toys for what used to be our yearly trip to the ocean. Since 2005 or so my parents started treating Husband and I (along with Rosy and Dexter, hooray the place allows dogs) to a two night stay in some rustic cabins by the ocean’s edge in the month of February. They pay for two cabins, one for them and one for us, and treat us to breakfasts in the lodge. We make simple lunches and dinners in the cabin’s small kitchen. The cabins also have a fireplace and a great view of the edge of the world. The cabins do not have televisions, phones, or internet; it is a great place to just be. It is fantastic.
My love affair with the ocean runs deep. I grew up on an island and the place where the water meets the rock and sand was my playground as a child, my boundaries as a teenager, and my place for reflection and solitude as an adult. The ocean is many things to me but has always been a place for healing. I need this more now than ever.
Several years ago, at the start of the decline of my dad’s health, he chose to stay home and just my mom met us out there for our weekend retreat. The following year and the years that followed there were fewer and fewer trips until they were no more.
Today’s trip has been planed for months. My dad was still living at home and in his lucid moments he knew my mom needed a break from caregiving. They toured the facility where just three short months later he would pass away. He told my mom that he would not want to live there but would concede to staying there for a weekend so she could go on this trip to the ocean. In his story, the short term plans for this weekend turned into a month and a half stay before his death almost two weeks ago. We have thought about canceling the trip as it comes so quickly on the heels of his death but we have decided that he would want us to continue on.
So continue on we shall. When we return the boys will have their little collections of shiny rocks and ocean smoothed pieces of driftwood. The dogs will have sand in their windblown fur. And we will all have memories shared, of ocean times spent with the people we love, even if they could not be there with us.