Friday, July 12, 2013

Faithful Friday: Remembering Florida

We leave tonight for Florida.  Our first trip to the beach since losing Austin. 
And Florida was our last family vacation with him.  Extra prayers appreciated...

I think back to our last family vacation and how many wonderful memories we now have. It was our first trip to Florida as a family, to Pensacola, July 2008. We rented a house with my cousin and her family and spent a week enjoying the sun, sand and sea.

We will again be renting a house with my cousin.  The additions this time my mom and niece Tina.  The obvious absence...our sweet boy.

I initially worried Austin wouldn't enjoy the trip. He was older than all the other children and, being a teenager, I felt he would grow bored or want to do his own thing. However, he was so content and thoroughly enjoyed the vacation.

Austin was my co-pilot for our midnight drive down. Tim and Noah slept in the backseat and Austin helped keep me awake for the long trek. We rocked out to classic 80s tunes, counted Waffle Houses, and just talked. It was wonderful.

We drove straight through and were pushing it to make it to Pensacola's beach for the Blue Angels show. As we hit the heavy traffic, our truck began acting up. On the 3 mile bridge, it nearly stalled several times and was a crazy, hectic way to begin our vacation. We made it across the bridge (changed into our swimsuits in the car!) and pulled into a McDonalds. Austin immediately took charge of Noah and took him inside to cool off and get a snack, while Tim and I surveyed the truck's damage.

Basically, it just overheated from sitting so long in traffic and not moving on the 3 mile bridge, but we were hesitant to stay and risk getting caught in the traffic leaving the BA show. We decided to head on to the vacation house and Austin was quick to let us know he was ok with missing the show. I was so impressed with his easy going attitude. We were hot, tired, and disappointed and he could of easily complained, but he didn't. We drove on the house in Perdido Key and luckily missed the storm that later hit the beach. (Turns out the air show didn't happen until the next day so we didn't lose out on that memory either!)

At the house (and really throughout the vacation), Austin was such a help. He carried luggage, played with the kids, packed supplies up and down the stairs, etc. And he did it without us asking. He made the vacation so pleasant and easy. On our beach days, I worried he wouldn't enjoy himself but it was actually what he requested to do the most. Austin loved the Quietwater Beach and found the love for snorkeling while there. He, Tim, and Noah had such a good time exploring the ocean floor. Austin found tons of sandollars, a sea horse and more, but was most thrilled to find an old cell phone. He knew it didn't work but thought it was too cool that he found it there!

The day we spent at what the kids called "The Angry Beach" he had fun catching jellyfish with my cousin's little girl's butterfly net. ...butterfly (wow) 
He also loved the Blue Angels show (as we all did) and was glad we didn't miss it that first day.

One of my favorite photos of him now was taken on our vacation and is of him sitting in a chair, enjoying the beach. He has a full smile and I am glad I caught that moment of time, a snapshot of happiness. It is a vacation that I will always remember fondly, mostly because it was our last family vacation.

And so, we bravely head out for the beach, without him, but ever in our hearts, on our minds, and I know he will be present in many ways throughout.   Lots of #23s already today.  Praying the peace of the ocean, the beauty of the sea, and God's love surrounds us on the trip.

If I take the wings of the morning and
dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
- Psalm 139:9-10

*italics from original post on Austin's site


Anna See said...

Praying for you! Boy, do I love that picture of Austin!

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