The children have gone to their other parents, and the windows are open. It is cool this Michigan night, and we are fresh off the humidity of Delaware beach week, where the air is thick and heavy with moisture, and the salt scent of the ocean hovers over our every breath.
I love our annual week at the beach. And then, once home, I love the sound of the silence.
It is an unusual and wonderful thing to love your life. Yes, there are days when I must admit, I don’t. But thankfully, they are few and far between.
Most days, I awaken knowing something wonderful lies in wait for me. Even if with it comes stress or aggravation or I don’t get it right the first time.
Most days, I am grateful for all the gifts my parents, and my grandparents, laid for me to have this easy life.
And mark my words, it has not been entirely easy.
But I lifted myself and my beautiful children from the ashes of dashed dreams and built a life worth living. A life where I notice the sunshine and the fresh air and the sounds of birds.
We rolled up our driveway today after a dozen hours on the road. The children were happy, if tired. They had mostly been kind to one another and to us on the long journey, and my husband, musty from sitting for so many hours, wasn’t too exhausted from doing all the driving.
Shaya and I went to the garden to see what had grown in our absence. We found giant yellow zucchinis, ready for us to pick. We found long tasty green beans and bright red round tomatoes. We found the pumpkin plant’s leaves all the way across the garden and peeking out the top of the fence.
We found the cucumber flowers abundant and bursting with yellow in its own corner. The radishes are done for, having grown higher than expected and too crowded (our fault) to yield more fruit.
But we are happy.
The kitchen counter holds seven huge zucchinis and isn’t it lucky the menu planning for the coming week included zucchini!
In Delaware, cousins descend from Pennsylvania and Virginia and Maryland and Washington, D.C., all together in three big houses at the shore.
We spend Sunday night and Tuesday night dining together in big celebratory meals with creative flair. We sang happy birthday to my soon-to-be 85-year-old father-in-law, and we remarked about the coming 80th birthday of an uncle.
On the beach each morning, we found each other and set up a line of folding chairs under colorful umbrellas. I bought a sunhat to protect my skin under 50 SPF and the waves were so mellow and easy that we plowed into the surf every single day and bobbed up and down, back and forth, in the lovely green-blue water.
Some days, the kids and I returned to the beach for a late afternoon swim. One evening, too. The water is different at different hours of the day, and this morning, at 6:55 a.m., we ventured silently onto the matted sand after a long night of howling rainstorms.
We walked wordlessly, still sleepy, melancholy over leaving, to the point where the water met the sand, and there, the kids granted me a few pictures of sun-kissed smiles and tan arms slung around one another’s backs.
And as we drove away, we lingered in the stories and the late-night talks, the games of flashlight tag on the beach with older cousins leading the way, the sleepovers and the silliness with cousins of a similar age.
We were so glad for having been there.
All good things are only good because they must come to an end. All year long, we anticipate this week with excitement and we plan for what it will be like when we are once again all together.
We like each other’s pictures all year long, imagining how sweet it will be when we can sit together and smile into easy conversation.
The reality is just as good as the fantasy, in this case. The moments picture-perfect, as beautiful and shiny as memories.