In September of last year, as the floods were coming to an end for the season, the boys and I decided to make plans to take a journey that would help renew our spirits and give us something to all look forward to. They all decided that they would love to go to Crater Lake to play in the snow and spend time with dear friends. So, we tentatively set our sights on that "something to look forward to".
We set the travel dates for February, knowing that weather might well be a catalyst to force a change in those dates. We didn't know if we would have money to afford the journey and we knew that my old car would have to be depended upon yet again if we were to make it there and back again. After months of not sleeping, I was very weary by the time our travel dates arrived. However, we had received a very unexpected financial gift which would cover the entirety of the cost of our trip, we had dodged sickness miraculously, and we had been able to make arrangements to cover the cleaning of the Airbnbs. It became obvious that this trip away would need to do be more about rest and restoration than about sightseeing and entertainment. We made the difficult decision to leave Lochlan home in the care of Daddy and my Aunt T who is now his Respite and HAB care provider. He did remarkably well and I am so grateful to both of them for giving me the respite.
We started our three day journey and arrived in Oregon just ahead of a large snowstorm that swept through the path we had followed. We stopped in Las Vegas for one night to visit with a beloved friend/brother from my childhood. Kurt has been a part of my life for so long and though we've had little time to see one another in the past 20 years, we picked up right where we left off, as always. We traipsed down memory lane and revisited those formative years that we all shared together. Our children (all boys!) were instant best friends and every part of that brief encounter with Kurt and his family was rich and beautiful. Kurt is all that I remember him to be and so much more.
We arrived in Oregon weary from travel, but also just deeply exhausted from life. Mark and Renae took immense care to let us rest, feed us, house us, and give us the warmth and safety to just be strengthened and renewed. We did very little except sleep, play, wander in their forest park, read and fellowship with one another. The love and kindness of such beloved friends as these cannot be easily reciprocated; it is treasured beyond measure.
We took one day to visit loved ones in Roseburg and that was very special for all of us. Giving my boys the chance to be in the presence of these people who have played such a pivotal role in my childhood and now into my adulthood is a blessing I do not take for granted. Aunt Jeannie and Uncle Mike literally changed the trajectory of both Krista and my life, I'm absolutely certain, in all the ways in which they invested of themselves into us, as children. We have looked to them for guidance, counsel for all these years and they have lived their lives in a manner that is consistent with their faith and love. Jackie and Tom have created the most beautiful Garden of Eden in the piece of land that was granted to them to cultivate over these many decades. I marvel at the beauty they have created around them, through toil and endless hours of nurturing and care. And the joy that they find in that work and labor is truly infectious! Madigan, Declan and Kelton (who refers to them as Jackie and Tommy) were absolutely enchanted with both of them.
And yes, we did indeed make it up to Crater Lake on one beautiful day. It was magical, as always!
We returned home (just ahead of yet another massive snow storm) with a renewed strength and resilience to face life and all that it holds. The impossible things somehow seem less daunting. As I sit, watching the sun fight it's way through the storm clouds and onto the swirling wind blown canvas, it feels harsh and cold outside but I am keenly aware of the warmth of the candles flickering, the snuggly Australian Shepherd curled up next to me, and the peaceful sounds of deeply sleeping children.