As I sit here under the Tiki hut at 11:30 at night watching the still water and listening to the distant rumble of thunder, I am filled with emotions. Is this really it? Will we be back again? I have feared each of the last couple years would be the last but, each time, the kids have honestly asked to return. This year, as we embarked on the trip – two days later than planned so that Michael could see his girlfriend through a surgery – I actually had a bit of trepidation, fearing that Michael wouldn’t be fully invested in what we do here and, instead, wish he were back home.
While he did keep in pretty much constant contact via text, my fears were largely unfounded as it was business as usual for us down here. Just the three of us together 24 hours a day for two weeks doing things we really love to do together. Yes, I love to fish but that togetherness is what this trip is really all about for me. It is total immersion in being with each other and we are together here like we are no other place we’ve been.
It is different now because the kids have grown so much. There is definitely a part of me that yearns for the time when Allison was 8 or 9 and wanted to do nothing but go to the snapper hole and catch as many fish as possible, never wanting to leave this place. The time when Michael would put her to sleep by telling ad-lib stories into the night after I put them to bed – in the same small bedroom that they are still sharing now at nearly 17 and 13 because they didn’t want to go to a different house – it just wouldn’t be the same.
The time when Michael would beg to drive the boat and feel so huge and empowered when I let him. When chasing iguanas around this yard and pretending to snorkel in the hot tub (which the kids turned off to make a tolerable temperature) would pass a lazy afternoon at the house.
Yes, a part of me yearns for that to have never ended and it is different now – but it is still wonderful and I cherish this and every other moment we have here for however long that lasts.
I’m not ashamed to say there are tears in my eyes as I write this. That is because there is a sense of loss associated with this trip coming to an end but, there can only be that sense because of so much that has been gained over the past several years in this place.
I will always cherish these times we’ve had here and I am confident the kids will too. I think these trips have helped to form the incredible bond I feel with both of them. My biggest fear five years ago as my marriage came to an end was the impact that would have on my relationship with my kids. I started this trip with them as a means to spend intense quality time with them in a place I knew we all enjoyed in order to keep my failure as a husband from becoming a failure as a father.
Of course, these two weeks of the year cannot define my role as a father – that must be something built every day and in normal life. But, I am convinced these two weeks each year have had a defining impact on our relationships with one another and that they have helped to provide a foundation upon which those relationships have developed.
Well, now it is after midnight and I must go to bed so we can get up and start our drive north tomorrow. So, I’ll stop my blubbering and leave you with some images from across the years in this magical place.
One final note to the Powells – the owners of this house we have come to know as our summer respite – THANK YOU for providing the home base for some of the most cherished moments of my life.