My body is freezing, but I'm mesmerized by the flames of the campfire. It's like they are dancing to the sound of the ocean waves. Their rhythm is keeping me sitting in this chair. As I sit here I'm contemplating my life...my hilarious, beautiful life.
We're camping right now. It will be the only family vacation we'll get this year. Just 4 short days by the ocean. Micah is leaving for engineer academy as soon as we get back. Then it will be a long hot summer without him. I'm relieved and scared at the same time. We've been spending too much time together these past 6 months. But knowing how little we'll see him until the end of the year is painful.
We normally camp with my parents. They couldn't come with us this time and we've been cussing them for it (jokingly) for the past 2 days. Micah and I had no idea how we ever managed to camp without them before. Even though we're in our 30's it feels like we're kids, trying to do it the first time. It's a comedy act, I can't lie. Every few minutes its "DAMN IT! We don't have (insert almost anything here) ! My mom always brings it. My parents have been bringing me to this campground for as long as I can remember. My best memories are here. The nostalgia is as thick as the fog rolling in right now. Around every bend and trail there are over 30 years of memories. I love this place and the ocean so much, I wrote a poem about it. I think I was in the first or second grade and it was published in a book. The school year was a ticking clock to get me back to my happy place.
And then my tired mind comes full circle. I can't help but giggle about how this trip started.
When my Moose turned 1 we had a big party. My husbands friend from the marines came to the party with his family. He was so awesome that he didn't just bring something for Moose. He actually brought huge, huggable stuffed toys for my girls. Fish got a large black bear she named "Beary". Butterfly got a large gray elephant she named "Elliez". My girls have slept with those animals almost every night for the past 3 years.
Butterfly kept asking me to help Elliez. She wanted Elliez to get some more stuffing. She had literally loved the poor thing flat. Then Elliez eye fell off and we couldn't find it. I promised my Butterfly that we'd give Elliez a new button eye and more stuffing. Then my year got busy and I forgot. Periodically she'd remind me "Mommy, remember you said you'd help Elliez?!" But I never seemed to have time to sit down and get it done.
We're packed and nearly ready to head out on our trip when Butterfly drops the hammer
"Mommy! You promised you'd fix Elliez! Now she's going camping with only 1 eye!"
She was clearly disappointed and upset. I could tell she thought I was going to blow her off. But I didn't.
I took Elliez and started making a hole for more stuffing. As I start adding the filling from a pillow to the poor elephants butt, my pretty girl come around the corner.
"Doesn't that hurt her? Is she gonna die?"
She is normally so tenacious and wise beyond her years. I was taken aback by her. I replied to her
"Nope, she's sleeping right now and can't feel a thing."
"Did you sing her a lullaby? She likes lullabies and it will help her with the pain. Can you sing to her? Please"
How could I say no to that. So as I finished a very well rounded augmentation of her derriere I sang her some lullabies. My Butterfly came up next to me and held the elephants hand.
"I'm right here, Elliez..You're gonna be OK".
It's easy to forget how young they really are. I had hoped I'd be done after a little stuffing, but my pretty girl wanted the works. She picked out button eyes and insisted Elliez have 2 matching button eyes. So I had to remove the remaining eye and patch that hole. Then she found red glittery bow buttons and insisted they would be the perfect earrings.
I know what you're thinking. Why not just say "NO", so that we could finally get on the road. But I just couldn't do that to her. Recently, I realized I say "NO" far too often to their requests. I actually declared a Fancy Dress Week just before school let out. Because I realized all I ever said to their requests to wear those fancy dresses was NO. Whats the point of having beautiful dresses if no one is allowed to wear them? The same thing felt important with Elliez. I needed to say YES and, take whatever time was needed to make her feel that her most prized sleeping bag buddy was fixed properly.
Our kids are literally forced to grow up far too soon. Whatever little things we can do to keep magic alive for them....I say YES! Life will bring them more heartache than we could possibly attempt to stop. So I am going to let them believe in mermaids, wear fancy dresses, dance in the store for no reason. Whatever it takes to keep them small for just a minute longer. Even if it means performing ocular replacement on a pachyderm right before a family vacation.
|Elliez, my co-pilot|
When I checked on Butterfly, she was passed out in her sleeping bag. Elliez stared back at me with her new black button eyes and, an arm securely around her neck. These are the memories she may write about someday. I hope her story starts out "My mom loved me more than the moon and stars....and one summer she gave new eyes to my Elliez"