We went on vacation … and YES, it was a SPECIAL vacation! Shelli has alluded to how it was filled with both tears and smiles. I’ll tell you the full story here.
There’s a lot going on, so please be patient with me.
Let’s start with us on the road to the home of Shelli’s parents at midnight. We get a call from her mother informing us that the there was a storm brewing around her and that they were saying that it was going to pretty bad. She says the rain is crazy, the winds are wild and that the sky is bright with lightning. Now mind you, our drive is pretty peaceful. Then, as we grew closer to our destination, we start to see random debris strewn on the highway’s shoulder. As we approach the exit a little closer to her parents’ house, things change a bit. It seems that things are more serious than her mother hinted.
The roads were a mess! The streets to her mother’s house are not passable. The random debris has turned into immoveable branches, downed power lines and massive country trees that I’m sure held more history in one branch than I hold in my entire body.
After about a 15 minute detour, we arrived at the house. As we park in front, it kicks in. The 60+ foot black walnut tree that towered in the front yard is laying almost horizontal across the yard. The only reason that is has a lean and isn’t laying flat across the driveway is because of her mother’s car and her father’s truck beneath it! Yeah, CRAZY!
But then there is the back yard too …
Usually this is an open space for Penelope, the 3 year old, hyperactive, 70 lb, pink-nosed pit bull, that thinks she’s still a 10 lb puppy, to frolic and be the bull in the china shop.
But now, it’s unrecognizable. There are so many branches from fallen limbs of the neighbors’ trees that there is only a small patch of grass that is visible in the nice southern yard. And, these aren’t the kind of branches that can be moved by hand. I’m talking about the kind that take a chainsaw to clear them!
Then, it gets worse …
I learn that Mrs. Gillis has just returned from her vacation getaway in Playa del Carmen earlier that day. I’m thinking, “This sucks.” And in my mind I’m like … “This sucks for Mrs. Gillis, but Mr. Gillis is gonna love this! In addition to being able to sell some firewood, he and Mrs. Gillis might get new rides out of all this!”
Then things gets even worse … Mr. Gillis isn’t around …
I find out that, when Mrs. Gillis got off the flight, she was informed that Mr. Gillis had been rushed to the local hospital via ambulance that day after passing out in front of the house. It seems that, amongst other things, he became dehydrated and collapsed just as he and one of his friends were preparing to head to tend to the animals at the farm. He’s fine now.
But Shelli’s mother hasn’t been to sleep. She had been at the hospital all day with him. But, she’s cool as a cucumber. Ok … actually she’s kind of a spark plug, but that’s normal for her. In my mind, it looks like the only thing on her mind is getting us to the airport.
So, being the TROOPER she is, Shelli’s mother left her car in the driveway (well it couldn’t go anywhere) and Shelli drove us around all of the fallen debris and got us to the airport for our 6:30 am flight out of Atlantic City … early!
And then, it gets even worse …
Here … I approach the ticket counter with boarding pass and passport in hand. Here … the ticket clerk notices that my passport was washed … a few times. Here … the ticket clerk tells me that there are two countries that they deny passports that are even slightly damaged … and that we’re trying to go to one. Here, my passport is denied. Shelli starts to cry. Here, my heart breaks. Shelli, her sister and the rest of those going on vacations make their way down the hall to the security check. They are out of my view. Here … my heart breaks again.
I’m sad that Shelli has left me and I’m not sure if I’ll be seeing her for a week. I’m mad that I was told 3 weeks prior that my passport would be fine. I’m disappointed in myself that I wasn’t 110% on top of my game and let this happen. I jump in the car with Shelli’s mother and devise a plan to go to Philadelphia on Monday morning to get a new passport.
Then, I’m reminded that Shelli’s mother just got home from vacation, hasn’t slept, her husband is in the hospital and her car is crushed under a tree. The ride back to her house reminded me that life isn’t always about our plan or our ideas of good and bad. I realized that it just wasn’t meant for me to be in that plane. I was supposed to be where I was. Assisting Shelli’s mom with her hardships made my issues so mundane and unworthy of any complaints about not going on vacation. There are other things that are much more important.
I’m not gonna stretch this out into a blog that’s all preachy about thanking God for the blessings we’ve been given. Instead, I’m just gonna leave you with an abbreviated end of the story …
In the end … a natural disaster and uncomfortable time away from Shelli turned into the great gift of quality one-on-one time with Shelli’s mother, father and cousin. Loss of electricity segues into quiet recovery and introspective time. (Oh yeah, the electricity was out at Shelli’s parents house the entire time I was there!). Hard conversations are turned into grand ideas and, hopefully, plans for a better future. A mad dash to Philly to get a passport turns into a viewing of Moonrise Kingdom (if you like youthful, quirky artsy kinda films, go see this INCREDIBLE film).
And then, on Wednesday morning, I was on a flight! While in the air, I had more time to think about what really happened. And simply put … God placed me where I needed to be … when I needed to be there. I was reminded that everything happens for a reason and that each day, moment and person that you encounter is a special blessing. When I landed, I was extra happy to see Shelli.
I wanted to do something to make this vacation extra special for her. I couldn’t think of anything worthy of her greatness … so …
After the closest thing we’ve had to an argument in 3 years (about me not knowing if I should have had flip-flops … I had water shoes!?!) … I decided that my gift would be … I’d just follow her lead. Well, as much as I could. I mean, how much could go wrong? We only had a few days to share on vacation.
Well … let’s just say a few things did go wrong! Yes … great pictures like this did have a cost! Let’s just say that I should have taken the camera out of my pocket before we rolled around in the sea smiling at the camera!
The camera recovered and the pictures were fine … See …
What? Did you really think that we were gonna run away and get married or something? Sorry …
What made this special? We lived through the cliché, “When life gives you lemons … you make lemonade!”
Not only did we live through it … we smiled through it. This sets the tone to how we’re gonna live our life together.
Think positively and optimistically (know that God has a plan!).
Share good communication with each other.
Don’t complain … be pro-active in your planning to change the things that you don’t like.
Do what you can do, but know that God has a plan that may or may not link with your own plan!
Know that God has a plan!
Ok … so it did get kinda drawn out and preachy, but hey … sometimes what God wants us to do isn’t gonna fit within our guidelines/expectations/plan/logic. Sometimes we have to trust that everything happens for a reason.
PS … the electricity JUST went out in the house and there will be no complaints from me!
Like I said … everything happens for a reason.