Take the trip, eat the cake: part one
This is gonna seem like it’s about a small vacation we took recently, just keep reading, it’s so much more than that!
Most recently the Mister and I went on a two day get away. It wasn’t until it was all planned and we were on our way that we realized we hadn’t “vacationed” anywhere alone overnight (that wasn’t volleyball season related) since before the triplets were born…so in that case we were pushing over 9 years ago.
That’s. just. Too. long. Now neither one of us are any good at traveling and even fewer of us are good at being away from our kids…but it was most definitely time!
There were a few gentle nudges to go and make it happen along the way. First there was Gaga, my mom, who lives in our house and has been pushing us to do this for a long time. Then there was Jesus. Now I missed this homily as I was with one of our kids getting some tests run at the hospital…but Bryan told me all about it. The basis of the homily (thank you Father Pat at Sacred Heart as you too were partly responsible for us getting in that car) was that you have to fill your own tank up with gas occasionally if you want to have enough fuel for everyone you take care of in your life. He said, one more game or one more activity isn’t going to fulfill you and missing it isn’t going to kill you or your child. I paraphrase…but this homily was given the Sunday before we were to leave that following Wednesday. Bryan said it was like he was talking directly to us.
I think it’s fair to say that Bryan and I’s tank were near empty…not to mention in the weeks leading up to our trip it seemed like life was a bit chaotic and we were more like two ships passing in the night rather than people who had meaningful conversation and quality time together. Anyone who’s married and has kids…you get it.
That’s life though, it’s busy, chaotic and awesome all wrapped into one but even in the midst of the crazy we were reminded on our trip just how important it is to take time out for each other and for ourselves.
So we had been eyeing this vacation spot in Branson, Missouri for awhile now…I know, doesn’t sound like a romantic getaway when you hear Branson. However, there is this oasis and little slice of Heaven there tucked away in a quiet little corner of Table Rock Lake called Stone Water Cove. It is aptly named as it is in a cove of the lake, the sound of running water is ever present and there are beautiful rock formations everywhere.
One of the appeals of this little joint was that they make and provide all your meals. Like…all of them. Which meant I didn’t have to prepare, cook or clean up after a single meal. I showed up and food appeared in front of my face. It was beyond awesome. Not to mention the food was delicious.
The resort offers a whole menu of activities, including zip lining, ATV tours, every boating exercise you can think of, it even has its own mini movie theater for a rainy day. While normally this place is hopping, we were fortunate enough to be there mid week (mid week special = less money) which meant there were very few guests. The staff was incredibly friendly, attentive and the room was the darkest and coolest place to sleep (requirements for me to acquire any sleep at all). It was beyond glorious.
Me and the Mister sat on the dock at night with a cocktail in hand watching the sun set talking for hours.
As if all of that isn’t enough, we received the most important lesson of our trip the second night by the bonfire with one of two other couples staying in the resort that day. Steph and Andrew. We’d seen them around; they were on our ATV tour earlier that day…but hadn’t had a chance to talk to them until then. They seemed nice, happy and genuinely appeared to enjoy each other’s company each time we saw them at a meal or on the swim dock. When Andrew got up to go order a drink, Steph changed our perspective on our whole trip.
While earlier that day I was stressing about what our kids were doing while we were away and wondering if it was worth it for me to be away I was reminded of just how fragile and unpredictable life is beside that fire pit at 9pm on a Thursday night. I’m not even sure how it came up, but I was asking about where they were from (California) and how they came upon a little resort in Missouri as a vacation spot and she told me that Andrew had brain cancer and because they couldn’t go far due to his treatment and surgery (he had part of the tumor removed already) they stumbled upon this little gem of a resort and decided to spend a week there.
As she spoke and told us of his illness, she said the words, “it’s not curable”. Tears fell from her eyes and from ours as she told us they had only been married a year. At this point Andrew came back and they told us the story of how they discovered he had a massive tumor. He had a Grand Mal Seizure at work and that was when they discovered it. They walked us through bits and pieces of what I can only have imagined was the scariest and most stressful year of their lives and told us about their families, jobs and upbringing.
These two sweet, young, healthy looking people rocked my world.
Here I was stressing about whether I should have left my kids in the incredibly capable hands of their Gaga who loves them like her own for 48 hours and this man sitting across the bonfire was fighting for his life and his wife, so they could some day have kids and help his family run their apple ranch. Bryan and I sat by the dock the night before this one discussing completely trivial things in comparison and as we went off to bed that night, our perspective on all of it had changed.
I won’t lie and tell you that it became easier for me to be away that night, it didn’t, but it helped me realize the importance of it.
Even though I am surrounded in my daily life with reminders of the importance of not taking anything for granted it was talking with Andrew and Steph that reminded me the most that life is a precious and awesome gift from GOD that can’t be taken for granted at any point. Spend your days making other people’s days better and with the people you love doing the things that you love. Smile at strangers more often, hug people more often, tell the people in your life you love them everyday, be grateful and gracious and patient to everyone you encounter from the person serving your meal to the teller at the bank to your boss at work because every single person you know if fighting a battle you know nothing about.
Donate your time, talents and money to causes you feel good about and dammit…..eat the cake every now and again…. definitely, definitely take the trip. Whether it’s with your whole family, your extended family or your spouse…take. The. Damn. Trip. Your life, your stresses and your laundry will still be waiting for you when you return but take the time every now and then to fill up your tank. Renew your friendships, invest in your marriage…it will make you a better child, friend, spouse and parent.
Thank you Andrew and Steph for that reminder and for your beautiful witness to loyalty, love, perseverance, the power of a positive attitude and the kick ass fight you demonstrated in your will to live. That night I laid in bed and said so many prayers for you and each night since you’ve been in my prayers.
To the rest of us, life is crazy and can be short and unexpected. Stop worrying about the trivial stuff that fills our day and don’t waste time being upset about things you can’t control (I am screaming this at myself by the way)…instead eat the cake and take the damn trip!
In case you want a good trip/getaway…check out these pictures from our trip. It was breathtaking, relaxing and fun! Look into Stone Water Cover also! It’s amazing!
The amazing dock at Stone Water Cove!
Us in our super cool hates before zip lining!
Bryan Dorsey on the dock as we watched the sunset and sipped on cocktails!
Bryan zipping away!
Our sweet helmets from our ATV tour!