My family has been traveling to Carova Beach at the end of our summers, with a group of friends and family that we hold dear, for more than a decade. This place is my beautiful escape and my serenity.
Last year on this vacation, I was halfway through chemotherapy, my sister was preparing to start proton radiation the following week and Teddy, a four year old, who 2 years earlier had been building sandcastles side by side with my daughter, was in a very touch and go battle of his own against a rare brain cancer and sadly could not be that far away from a children's hospital. That’s right -- 3 out of a group that was never larger than 18 were battling cancer.
Last year, our group was small and while we soaked in the sun, we were quieter than normal and just a bit reserved as we all tried to climb out of our heads.
This year, A Week Away blessed us with a trip of celebration, an opportunity to breathe and to smile because ALL 3 of us have beat cancer and are working to put it behind us.
While I was excited for this opportunity, I was over the moon excited to spend some time with the Teddy and his family. I wanted this vacation to be absolutely P.E.R.F.E.C.T. for them. During my battle with cancer, my heart broke for my dear friends because while I only had to fight back against cancer they had to watch, sometimes helplessly and sometimes with the ferocity of a grizzly bear, as their toddler son fought the fight. Even now, just typing a sentence, about a child having to fight for their life against cancer brings tears to my eyes. I simply cannot imagine anything more devastating.
Additionally, while Teddy battled cancer, his parents were also raising their infant son Ben. I don't know how they did it. I thought my journey was hard, watching my sister's journey was even harder, and when I thought about them and how hard their typical Wednesday was, my heart broke. Despite their own heartbreaking journey, it was Doug and Ambriel, who were often the ones offering me encouragement. They are the kind of human beings that I want to clone and pass out like candy to everyone I know, firmly believing that everyone should have a Doug and Ambriel, in their lives. They deserved a week away more than anyone I have ever met.
The week turned out amazing, for it was filled with those tiny moments of perfection that fill your heart with love until you feel like you may explode. I held my daughter tightly in my arms, breathing her in, as we watched the sunrise together. I watched Teddy and Logan in the waves, together with the amazing men that are their fathers. I sat in the dunes, chatting with my sisters as the sun set behind us and the voices of truly happy children filled the air.
We swam, we took walks on the beach, we build sand volcanoes and we read books, lots of books. When it was time to say good bye, tears sprang to our eyes. As grateful as I was for this opportunity for a week away with my family, I was absolutely honored to be a part of this week away for Teddy and his family and I will cherish the beautiful memories we made, for all of my life.
"At a time when we don’t really see many miraculous things. Maybe we do. Maybe they are all around us everyday, we just don’t know where to look." - E.B. White, "Charlotte's Web"
- Jessica Jack