At the end of this summer, the kids and I took our first vacation as a family of 3. We went on vacation last year, but took my parents along for help. This year, I decided it was time to own our new life and braved it alone. There were lots of people who didn't understand and were concerned about us going on vacation alone. Would we be safe? Would we have fun? What if I needed help? I understood these concerns - I had them myself. But after a year and a half of being a single mom, I decided it was time to take this next step.
We went to San Antonio with the sole intent of going to Sea World. We love Sea World. In fact, it was the last vacation we took with Barry. That trip was one of the sweetest memories I have of us as a family of four. Going back to San Antonio was safe and easy - I knew where to stay, how to plan our days. So, I packed us up and headed out for a new adventure and new memories.
Our trip was wonderful. I could not have asked for more. The kids had a blast. William and Layla fed sea lions, seals and dolphins. William even found the courage to pet a dolphin! (It may or may not have taken 3 days to build up the courage...). On the first day, Layla was terrified of the Shamu show. By the last day, she was begging to go back and cheering. We went to the water park. The kids ate funnel cake for the first time and William loved it. Layla was fascinated by the penguins and William insisted on seeing the sharks every day. We laughed and played and explored and had the best time.
While there were so many wonderful moments, there were also some painful moments as well. On our first day, we went to the pool at our hotel. We stayed in the same hotel as our trip with Barry. As we walked out to the pool, William screamed, "Momma! I swam in this pool with my daddy! I pushed him under the water right there." It was a bittersweet moment. I remember that day. I remember them playing and laughing . And I wish William could swim with his daddy again. We miss him. But it was also so sweet to see how God is continuing to answer our prayers for William. After Barry died, so many people prayed that God would seal memories of Barry in his heart and help him remember his daddy. God has answered those prayers. William remembers. And I think that going back to that place and remembering has helped to strengthen that memory. As we watched the sharks at Sea World, we missed daddy. William missed having his daddy there. I missed Barry as William asked me what kind of sharks they were and I didn't know the answer. And I wished that Barry could see the awe William and Layla both had in watching their daddy's favorite animal.
As I reflected on our trip during the drive home, I felt a great sense of peace and gratitude. I was thankful for the for the blessing of getting to have adventures with my kids. For the ability to laugh and play. For the strength to not just endure life, but to enjoy it and move forward. I realized just how far God had brought us over the last 18 months. And I was thankful that while we were creating new memories, God let me look back at old memories with deep joy and peace. Our life with Barry was precious and good. And even though we miss him, our life without him is also precious and good. How amazing.