Wednesday, June 9

Sand in My Suitcase

I'm not a fan of unpacking. Now packing a suitcase, that's a different story. There's so much anticipation, the imagining of what the trip will be like, the expectation of reuniting with family and friends, the excitement of a long-awaited vacation from the daily grind.

But unpacking is bittersweet. And when I do it right after arriving home, like I did this trip, there's more bitter than sweet.

Oh yes, there's still the thrill of unloading all of the things we were blessed enough to purchase, the fun of putting them in their new places.
But there's also the sand. And the sand is what brings on the tears.

You see, on this trip, we got to share three amazing days on the beach with our family, soaking up the sun, the waves, and each other. While we were there, I had an epiphany: when we lived near family and friends, we all too often took them for granted. We knew we could see them anytime, that they were just around the corner...and while we saw them as often as we could, we didn't cherish that gift like we do now.

But on vacation, we simply lived life with those we love.

I got to wake up each morning and drink coffee with my sweet friend Melanie.

I got to watch her kids and mine pick up their friendship right where they'd left off.

I had the luxury of spending a couple of hours walking to and from Starbucks with my sister-in-law and brother, hours in which we shared our thoughts and our hearts with each other.

I got to make an early morning donut-run with my grandma, a woman whose shared wisdom is precious to me.

I had plenty of delightful, "let's just hang out together" time with my niece and my brother.

I spent priceless hours on the beach with my kids and loved watching my dad and mom watch their grandkids.

I had the talks I can never get enough of with my mom...the kind where we can go from oohing and aahing over cookbooks to telling our hopes and dreams for each other in a matter of minutes.

And so, while the sand-encrusted swimsuits in my suitcase (and the myriad of shells I fished out that eventually ended up in the bottom of my washing machine) made my heart physically hurt with the missing, and while the tears I'd tried to squelch came was impossible for me to forget just how ridiculously blessed we are.

To have family and friends who love us and express that love to us.
To spend hours with those we love and have the freedom to debate, to laugh with (and at!) each other, to accept and actually like each other.
To get to see them as often as we do and know that, for that brief moment, we will all put the busyness of our lives on hold in order to take advantage of every hour together.

So, I'll take the "bitter" in the unpacking, because I got to taste the sweet, and now I get to savor the memory of that.
I'll dump out that sandy suitcase and hold onto those memories.

And dream about next year.