You know that feeling when you return from a vacation, a few days pass, and you pull up your vacation pictures again. You stare them over. You laugh again at all the funny things that happened. You can't believe you took a picture of that. But it's not until the end of the picture memory review that it hits you. Some kind of magic happened. And it's at that very moment when you really understand the fabulousness of that trip. You don't quite understand that while it's happening. But the pictures? They tell a different story.
That's where I am today.
I'm just a few days out from a trip full of fabulousness at the retreat in Cle Elum, Washington for Mommas of near drown kids.
I know most of these women. I attended the retreat last year and it was pretty much life changing for me. We've kept in touch over the last year through Facebook and the weekend finally arrived!
Just like last year, I was welcomed by Mt. Ranier. The magnificence of this mountain popping up nonchalantly outside my plane window screams - Oh, it's on this weekend, Momma.
The first day, fresh from the plane ride, all the women met up in downtown Seattle. It was actually really nice weather so it made it an even nicer experience to hang out by the water.
We modeled fashion-forward bibs at the Crab Pot.
After we arrived at Suncadia, the place of the retreat, we stayed up late to catch up. We talked about our kids, our families, we ate pie, and an unhealthy amount of chocolate.
But it's okay. We hiked it off in the morning.
There were times when we giggled and laughed. We were goofy and silly and without children.
Reflecting on this weekend was easy for me this year. Last year, I realized, I was in a much different place. I had a lot of fear. Not of the retreat, but in general. It was the first time for me away from my kids, ever. I didn't know most of the women. Okay, so that was a little scary. But when I looked at pictures of myself from last year, I really didn't look like I was having fun. I was having a blast. It's just that nobody could tell.
When I saw pictures of myself this year, I look happy. I said - Self, you look happy. And I feel happy and so at peace and this past weekend really solidified that.
There were a few exercises we did this weekend that I think might forever change me. I was expecting to relate to other moms and learn more about them. I intently listened to every one of them. Imagine my surprise when I actually learned more about my self. See, not only do I feel genuinely happy and at peace, but I feel like the fear has subsided. I'm living now.
Part of learning this was learning by the examples I had last year. Fifteen of them, to be exact. Eighteen ladies this year. There is something very soul-moving, if that makes sense, about looking into the faces of these women, laughing and chatting, but also knowing they intimately know that deep down part of me that is broken. They have gone through the exact same thing. That part of my life - they live it. Not something like it. Not kind of the same thing.
The. Same. Thing.
Look at them. All of them. So much pain. So much hurt. And so much beauty.
Behind each one of those faces is a child who fell into a pool or a lake or another form of water. Their little baby lives ended as they knew it. Just let that sink in for a second. Each one of those women dropped to their knees and begged for mercy many times after that. There are a lot of tears amongst these faces and a lot of pain. But look at them standing so strong. Some of the strongest women I know. One step in front of the other they picked up the pieces. They laugh now. A lot. And they live.