Another family vacation has come and gone. This was our 5th. one without Bryan and it was still hard. Not as hard as the previous ones, but hard nonetheless. I am learning that time does help and heal, but for me it only helps with the sudden, knock-your-breath out feeling. The feeling of such crippling despair. I am also learning that grief and joy can co-exist. Family vacations have always been me, Bryan and our kids, my sister, brother-in-law and their kids, and my mom. For over 20 years our vacations were what Bryan and I looked forward to the most. A week away at a gulf front beach house that would consist of lots of eating, sleeping, swimming, tanning and lots of fishing for the guys. We LOVED our vacation time and it would always come at just the right time when we desperately needed to get away. I never thought I would enjoy vacations again after his death. I just couldn’t imagine even going, let alone having a good time. My heart would feel like it was going to bust just thinking about it and trying to plan it would bring on the worst anxiety. Although I knew Bryan would still want me to carry on our family traditions, it was still so hard. It felt like my heart was playing tug-of-war. I remember the first couple years feeling completely numb, and trying the best I could to be okay for my kids. I missed him so and still do, but it’s changed. We found a new little slice of heaven, one that fits all our vacation needs and one that we can create new memories at. Of course we still have our memories of vacations passed, ones that are full of Bryan and all the fun we had, but we are slowly making new memories and for me, they can and will co-exist. We just got back from this years vacation and like last years, we had a wonderful time. Each year I can feel myself changing, I see my son, now 16 fishing and looking so much like his daddy.
It’s bittersweet for sure.

As painful as those first few years were in the beginning, I believe they were necessary for me to enjoy the vacations now. I still look for him in the mornings when I wake up, I still see other families and miss what was, but I try not to stay in the “what-ifs” for to long. I have found that can be a dangerous place for me. It can easily take me right back down the rabbit hole of despair and unbearable pain. I try my best to live for the now and be as present as I can for my kids. I will end this with one of my favorite pictures of my guy on one of our now many treasured vacations.