As we drove down the gravel road to our summer house, I opened the car window and inhaled deeply. Mixed with the salty scent of the ocean was the fragrance of lilacs and honeysuckle – the delicious aroma I missed last year. The pool was still beyond our sight but I saw it clearly in my mind … our private haven … the sensation of floating, feeling all stress evaporate, stillness interrupted only by an occasional breeze. 

Our house is large with floor-to-ceiling windows affording us spectacular views of the distant ocean. Located on a cul-de-sac, there is no traffic and we are invisible from the street.

Last year was the first time we didn’t make it to our sanctuary. 

It all started on June 3rd when Bill fell off a ladder. I was sitting in our den overlooking the backyard and saw him fall. In the seconds it took me to reach him, he was sprawled on the deck, barely conscious, a lump on his forehead the size of a peach. But it was the sickening angle of his leg that made me realize this was serious. 

I called 911, then our kids and we followed the ambulance to the hospital.  Bill had a badly broken femur. Surgery was done that night which would be followed by a lengthy hospital stay and rehabilitation. We all realized our long-anticipated vacation scheduled for June 30th would be cancelled. Priorities. 

Surgery went well and I visited Bill every day, staying all day. At night when I closed my eyes I saw him falling off the ladder. Stress took its toll on me, my arthritic knees screamed in agony and my back began to spasm.

Compounded with Bill’s physical pain was his guilt over “ruining our vacation”. He felt far worse for me, our kids and grandkids, convinced that we were too disappointed to forgive him. Again, priorities.

As Bill began to improve, I thought I would also but my pain became excruciating and I began a months-long regimen of spinal injections to relieve the torment in my legs and back. 

And the year from hell ravaged us, bringing with it more hardship and tragedy than we could imagine – all difficult, some almost unbearable. The most crushing of all was the overdose death of our dear nephew – ripped so cruelly from our lives. We cried in pain, sobbed in anguish. We woke every morning of that hellish year, putting one foot in front of the other, somehow managing to go on. A missed vacation paled in comparison.

Now rebirth … another summer. Driving down the gravel road to our vacation house all I can think about is floating in the pool with Bill, the sun shining down on our battered bodies. The unpacking and settling-in will get done soon enough but right now the warm blue water of the pool and the smell of honeysuckle and lilacs is all we need.

NAR © 2018

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