These story-sharers, these journey-walkers, they're tough chicks, like me. I say that because a good friend of mine told me I was a tough chick and I liked the weight of it.
I had the blessed opportunity to meet these tough chicks at a retreat outside of Seattle. Not only are we all tough chicks, but we're all mothers. And we all have children who've nearly drowned. We all experienced catastrophe. All of our stories are similarly told with great care in how we tell them. No matter what the circumstances of the initial drowning, all of the stories of these children are eerily similar. When we tell our stories, we all tear up as if we are hearing our own story about our own child.
I didn't know what to expect with the retreat. It was the first time leaving all of my children AND my husband. In fact, I hadn't travelled by myself since I was a teenager. I still say, "Excuse us," in stores even when my children aren't with me. So this was a big deal. Although I didn't know what to expect, in general, I knew I'd get some uninterrupted sleep.
We visited Seattle. And when it was time to decide what to do next - Space Needle or more sight seeing - I was told, "It's up to you. It's your trip to Seattle." What?! My trip?! My kids aren't tired or hungry? Christian doesn't need to be fed? Where am I? - I thought.
The first day there at the lodge I did a lot of nothing. I ate candy and we played card games while we waited for all the other ladies to show up. I still wondered what exactly we were going to do. Were we going to cry? Were we going to bare our souls in therapy sessions? Were we going to start a fire outside, hold hands in a circle and howl at the moon? What does one do on a retreat?
Well, we played card games. We carried on conversations off to the side about our kids and our stories and what happened on that day. We talked about therapies our kids were doing but we also talked about our favorite foods, Saturday Night Live, movies we've seen and the places we called home. We visited a cute little German town and I watched a new friend from Hawaii see her first fall leaves.
I've never seen such beautiful leaves than those that exist in the state of Washington. And I wasn't aware that nature even made trees in this color.
We all came from far away places but we are mothers with the same experience. We had beautiful children born full of hope and promise who smiled and called us Momma. And we are now mothers of beautiful children full of hope and promise who may never say a word to us, but who speak to us with their eyes and with their bodies. There will always be hurt way deep down inside, but we find joy in new things.
We're tough chicks.
So what did we do? It wasn't until I got home yesterday that I realized...we did NOTHING! That was the whole point. There were no alarms, no medication to administer, there were no feeding schedules, or PT. Nobody was obligated to do much of anything unless they wanted to. And Momma enjoyed her uninterrupted sleep, by the way.
Amazing women they were. There weren't a lot of tears of sadness, but, rather tears from laughing and tears of gratitude and of one mom relating to another.
I have to say a HUGE thank you to Sue Searles. She really puts her heart into this. She wants to make this happen for us and, even though she has her own little boy at home, she made this weekend perfect for us. Sue, you rock! It takes an extremely selfless person, in the face of struggle, to go out of their way to do something so nice and so healing for others.
Amy and Yoli for helping to make this weekend so awesome.
Kehau for chocolates.
Erin for slippers.
Lindsey and Julie for t-shirts.
Annie for the beautiful bracelets.
And, Tiffany, for the amazing accommodations! It was breathtaking.