I tell you all this so that you will understand what the lake means to me. Yes, it’s a lake. But, it’s so much more than that to me. There are so many memories and emotions connected to that lake. Fun family memories when I was a kid. Tragic memories when I was in high school. (that’s a story for a different day). Memories of my sister’s kids coming to the lake as small babies. Then kids and teenagers and now adults. Memories of my boyfriend who is now my husband coming on vacation with my family. And now, lots of fun memories with my dogs. Maverick’s first trip his hair was too long and he was so hot we had to keep a wet towel on him all the time. Teaching Jasper how to swim, not just run on the shore and steal the toy from Mav. Maverick falling into the water when he was barking at ducks. Stanley being too scared to jump onto the boat from the dock. Yelling at Jasper to “stay” on the beach so we can set anchors without him “helping” us. Stanley and his friend Eve playing chase and tag on the beach. Hiking and exploring with them. So many memories packed into one place.
The other wonderful thing about the lake is that we have zero cell phone coverage once you leave the marina. That means I have to totally 100% unplug from work and get to reconnect with my boys and that includes my husband. We play, we hike, we sleep, we swim. We spend an entire week together and there are no distractions from the world. No social media, no email, no phone. For me, it is a slice of heaven and it rejuvenates my soul.
Maverick’s surgery was scheduled in June so that he would have plenty of time to heal so that we could go to the lake this year. Unfortunately, he developed a stitch abscess and we weren’t sure we were going to make it. The vet gave us the “ok” to go on Tuesday and we left on Friday. Thankfully we have gone so many times packing is fairly easy, we know exactly what to bring. While we got the “go ahead” we had conditions. We had to keep his bum clean and dry him after swimming. Apply Neosporin, let him rest, make sure he eats etc. I wanted him to have fun but I didn’t want it to be at the expense of his health. Needless to say I was kind of a nervous Nelly for the first few days. We were VERY fortunate to find the best campsite we have ever had. And that is saying a lot when you have been going for over 35 years. (Oh my Lord! I suddenly feel really OLD! 35 years?) This campsite had shade for most of the day. That meant it wasn’t hot sun beating on us all day. When it’s 100° and you’re in the hot sun it just sucks the life right out of you and you spend most of the day in the water to stay cool. This shade was a gift from God. It allowed us to keep the dogs cool without being wet all day which helped Maverick’s bum. It also helped him maintain somewhat of an appetite. He only lost 4 pounds instead of his usual 7 pounds. It’s so hard to get them to eat when it’s that hot. Because it was cool in the morning we all got to sleep in. Basically our mornings were really relaxed, I read four books, and in the afternoon we would play in the water when the sun was out and then eat dinner and the dogs would head to bed. Jasper normally sleeps with us and this year Maverick was the king of the bed. He had no qualms about stretching out diagonally across the bed and was sound asleep when we came to bed. Did he get up? Nope! Did we ask him to? Nope. We just crawled in under him.
I caught myself thinking “this is the last time he will be here” on a few occasions and I would quickly shove that thought away. But, it was always there, a tiny little whisper. On our last day on the beach I was playing with him at the water’s edge and the sun was moving behind the canyon wall. All I kept thinking was “No! Not yet! We leave tomorrow and I’m not ready.” I wanted to stop time. To freeze this moment. I studied everything. The way the water felt, the sand beneath my legs, Maverick's wet hair, Michael sitting next to me. I wanted to have a crystal clear picture that I could add to my memory bank. I wish someone would have taken a picture but we were all together and I wasn’t going to get up and ruin the moment. Both Michael and I knew that these precious minutes might be his last at the lake. And then the sun was gone. The moment gone. We had to get out of the water so he didn’t get cold. Get him cleaned up and have our last night on the beach. We had a huge celebration bonfire while he was crashed out on our bed. Happy and content. I was with him and watched the fire from the boat. I couldn’t tear myself away from him. And now, those are in my memory bank.
The next day we headed back to the marina and home the day after. Our last morning there, before we got into the car I decided to let them play in the water one more time. There were two young girls who came over to see the dogs and play with them. They thought it was great fun to throw the wubba and watch them retrieve it. When my niece came to get us one of the girls took Maverick’s toy and handed it to me. She told him, “time for you to go home now”. She was an angel from God. I don’t think I could have done it. I would have sat there all morning letting him play. And I don’t think Michael or Monica would have had the heart to tear me away. And then that was it. Our trip was done. His trip was done. Do I think he will be back? I really don’t know. I don’t know what the future holds. I hope he might have another trip but to be honest I am not sure if I could do it. This trip I was able to hold on to the hope that he could go again but the next time I will know for sure that it will be his last trip. I am not sure if I have the fortitude to do that.
It was a bittersweet trip. This is the first time I haven’t been eager to get back to work. I think it’s because I just want to go back to that last afternoon with the sun setting and my boy in the water. I want to live there for a little longer.
When I returned and was telling a friend about my trip this is what she said.
"I'm learning that every special occasion needs to be kept as a separate memory. You never know when circumstances may change, so the really nice times get preserved, each in their places. I drag them out from time to time with a smile. Sounds like this trip may hold a number of those special memories, that are forever linked to other ones in the past. But be confident that you will continue to have great ones that will keep you going!"
My friend nailed it on the head. The lake continues to make memories that are linked to other ones in the past and as each trip happens the links grow and grow. But, she is also right that we will continue to make great ones that will keep us going. Keep me going.
When you feel that whisper, that breeze on your cheek that says, “Remember this moment. It’s important.” stop and look around. Notice ALL the details. It is one of your special moments that you will want to bring out from time to time. I am hoping that our trip to California will be over flowing in special memories. Soon, that will be all I have left of them. Special memories and holes in my heart.
Time to go now, I am an emotional wreck putting all this on paper. So much easier to just say, “vacation was fine” but so many of you want to know how he is doing and how we are doing. I wanted to be honest about our trip.
So, now you know. It was wonderful and sad in equal parts.