Perched on the shore I staked as my own, I sit solidly upon a lake that churns with impatient waves. My seat upon the wooden boards holds me steady, bolstered on its underbelly with rocks laid by the same fatherly hands that bless my head on Friday evenings. Guided by the wooden sign to “Lauren’s Landing”, my mom created the sign to create a sacred room of my own in their Canadian cottage. I follow her directions infused with her wisdom, led by her love to this place of peace. It’s my last day at their cottage and the clouds protest my departure while simultaneously, the winds push me to soar from the nest back to my everyday world. It’s time to go home, time to mark the milestones and log the sweetness as we wave goodbye. It’s time to dig out my suitcase, exiting while there’s still applause ringing in our ears.
It’s been 24 months since I last sat on this landing, and a lifetime has passed in the interim. How far we’ve come... The inevitably irritations noted and then let go, the old scars have poked through our tougher skin at times, but now soothed with a kiss as we’ve learned how to love despite flaws, and cherish amidst disagreements. We are 3 adults, and 12 days together are bound to result in a few stubbed toes and bruised egos. But there is beauty in our persistence. ‘I’m sorry’ comes easier now, and ‘I love you’ was never our struggle. Sure we had our tense moments holding our breath until the air dissipated, but we always found our way back into the sunshine. On a balance sheet, this week tips in favor of joy. There were the main events: forest hiking, canoeing, sailing, local theatre, and twilight hot tub soaks. But the highlights are always seen only with the heart and ‘what is essential is invisible to the eye’ (from The Little Prince).
I fold the exhalations of contentment and easy silence on the dock into my luggage. I lay the shared glances of history and inside jokes aside the reassuring goodnight hugs. I tuck the glide of lake swims between lessons on braiding a 6-strand challah. I collect the minutes of understanding and the quiet acceptance of our individuality, making sure not the crush the unconditional love that lines the corners of my ragged suitcase. There are blessings up here that shimmer because of rather than despite their ordinariness. The sweetness of waking up to a duo chanting Hebrew melodies, the way old frustrations sizzle with compromise on both sides, the mellowing, wisdom, and gentler pace that lulls us all into a dance of peaceful relaxation. I count my blessings among the sole lily flower and the dip of the kayak paddle, the visits with friends who rush with open arms and the pj-clad breakfasts around our green wooden table, the lazy evenings in this cozy building you have transformed into a home.
We’ve come a long way to sit side by side on this dock, and I am grateful for the gift of this trip, the knowledge that travel is well worth the stress, and the absolute surety that I have a family who exceeds its very definition. Family means more than shared genes and childhood memories. It also is the steady support, familiar comfort, and the eternal knowledge that I will never have to be a team of one.
Thank you for the 12 days, the hospitality, and the willingness to celebrate despite the fear and to love well before perfection. Thank you for offering your oasis of peace and shuffling your routine to make space for my craziness as well as my smile. Thank you for the patience and advice. Thank you for the small wooden perch upon the shore that beckons me with balance as I pocket the calm I have found here, and thank you for reminding me that vacation is worth fighting for, and that change brings unexpected delights. Thank you for sharing your cottage and your joy. Thank you.