Vaca starts today!

This is it. Today’s the day. I’m leaving the heat & humidity of Houston behind for 2 weeks of balmy-but-not-hot weather and cool ocean breezes. My right-brained son pointed out a few days ago that I haven’t been to Salisbury Beach in 2 years. Duh. Of course I knew I missed the trip last year — was painfully aware in fact — but hadn’t thought about it in those terms. So it goes without saying that I have a lot of making up to do. A serious re-do is in order, and it starts today.

We’ve been making this trip for a lot of years. My kids looked like this when we started:

We were much more bogged down with bulging carry-on bags to entertain these little guys on the 4-hour flight. Lugging diapers and endless snacks, as well as car seats, across the country while fretting about how to keep them still during the travel time.

Nowadays they’re much simpler (and thankfully out of diapers). They’re entertained by their iTouch or iPhone and can even load their own devices with songs and TV shows from iTunes. Now that’s progress!

We’ve been talking for days about hitting all our favorite haunts: Markey’s lobster pound, Dunlap’s ice cream shop, Willie’s candy store, the arcade, and of course Blink’s for fried dough. The order is always the same at Blink’s — chocolate frosting with chocolate jimmies. I try to talk the kids into sharing a piece every year, and every year they insist they need their own. Because fried dough hot out of the fryer and covered in frosting and sprinkles is a tradition at the beach, they win that debate. They’ll burn off the junk-food calories chasing waves in the ocean. The water’s a bit cool for this Texas girl to frolic, but it will make me happy to watch my kids battle the waves in giant tubes.

My heart is full as I gather my last-minute things and zip my suitcase. This time last year, I was learning the ins & outs of home health care and lugging a wound vacuum around while my kids flew across the country without me. I was learning just how insidious cancer is and the many ways in which it disrupts one’s life. I had wrapped my head around my diagnosis, endured endless testing, made heart-wrenching decisions, and faced a nasty surgery and long recovery. All of that was bad, no doubt, but the worst was putting my kids on a plane to go to our beloved beach without me. This time last year I wrote about it on my Caring Bridge page:

“The kids are excited, and they’ll have a fantastic time. I can heal in peace for 12 days with no one to think about but myself. That’s bizarre to me. After spending the last decade-plus taking care of my kids every day, minus a few days every year for a girls’ weekend, that’s kind of weird. If I miss them too much, I can always flip on SportsCenter of Disney Channel and leave a trail of dirty clothes around.”

No need to do that this year — I’ll be right there with ’em. Macy reminded me that we’ll be watching the sunset on the beach tonight. I might even get myself a piece of fried dough.

I’m definitely taking the advice of a very wise friend, who said “Drink cocktails. Eat lobster. Love life.”