Yesterday I packed up the girls and headed to Stedman to see Chad’s family.
Most of his New York family came to the service Saturday and we didn’t get to talk much, so I wanted to make sure the girls got to meet everyone and thank them for coming.
It was great to see them all and I wish we had more time together.
We also went to spend a little time with my dad and let the girls play with his dogs — they love Papa & the pups.
Then, we hit the road.
I didn’t tell them where we were going — but Carys guessed it on the first try.
I just didn’t confirm her suspicions until she read the sign when we pulled into the parking lot.
I decided to take them back to a place where they had recent, good, fun memories of Chad and Great Wolf Lodge seemed fitting.
It is, after all, where we began our Ultimate Summer adventure.
It has been hard for me because I fondly remember better times here, as a family of four.
The girls are also remembering how much fun we had earlier this year – just a mere five months ago.
That doesn’t seem like that long ago.
He was tired when we were here in July, but still had all of his motor functions.
He looked good. He walked a little slow, but he looked really, really good.
Last night, the girls wanted to head straight to the water park once we got here.
At the door, the lifeguard measured them and placed arm bands to indicate what rides they could and could not go on.
Carys can do everything – she’s tall enough.
Cailyn has grown since the last time we were here, so she can do everything except the “big slide” (which Carys and I rode last time, not knowing that it wasn’t something we realllllly wanted to do until it was too late).
The lifeguard explained to Cailyn that she would have to ride the other bigger slides with her mom or dad — and Carys looked at her little sister, then back to the lifeguard. And said, “Our daddy just went to Heaven. So he can’t ride the rides. He’s just watching us now.”
That poor lifeguard didn’t know what to say. But I was proud of Carys. My sweet, sweet girl that is much too wise for her age.
They have had a blast.
They have played and talked openly and have remembered Chad with laughter.
Exactly what I had hoped would happen for them.
I was sitting on the couch last night before bedtime, just having a moment for myself.
And of course I cried a bit.
Cailyn noticed and came over, asking why I was so sad.
I explained to her that I just missed Daddy so much, and wished he was here with us.
And she gave me a hug, crawled in my lap and told me how much she missed Daddy too.
Then came along Carys.
More hugs and snuggles.
We all had a good little cry and then we took turns talking about Daddy and remembering our wonderful Summer together.
It’s been therapeutic.
And a little sad.
But it’s also been a liberating day for me to come back and experience our time here together all over again.
And to create new memories.
Forgive the grainy camera phone pictures. I didn’t lug my big camera with us for this trip – just didn’t feel like it.
Today, Cailyn told me she was having so much fun that even her toes were smiling.
And Carys remembered her favorite thing to do here – she didn’t miss a beat.
She even taught Cailyn how to do it this time, too.
There has been a lot of growing over the last five months. Physically and emotionally.
We spent a lot of time in the arcade this time and the girls had so much fun.
They got a LOT of tickets – 990 when it was all over with.
And they divided their tickets up evenly, each getting a journal and some other little stuff.
They are already writing nice little messages in their private journals – mostly about Chad – then locking it up tight with a tiny little key. Something they will love to see in fifteen years, I bet.
The last time we were here, it was July. It was so hot.
This time, there is actually a nice little fire dancing in the fireplace.
And I couldn’t help but think that it was supposed to be this way; a glowing reminder of what has been.
And this fire of remembrance is never going to go out.
I found a proverb over the Summer that just stuck with me and I remember telling him what a beautiful sentiment I thought it was:
“Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.”
The stars have been so bright in the sky since the day Chad left us.
Each time I step outside at night and look to the heavens, I don’t see a cloud in the sky.
Just bright stars. And so, so many of them.
And I’m sure I’m reaching for something to comfort me – but I can’t help but think that Chad’s putting on a show for us.
He’s making them brighter – just for me.
Just to let me know he’s okay.
His eyes were always bright like stars.
I plan to have the girls back to school Wednesday and am keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t end up at the doctor’s office tomorrow after unpacking.
Thank you for the support and encouragement.
We do feel it, if you’re curious.