June 23, 2010

My son and I were in Ireland last week. It was a graduation present for him. It’s an old family tradition that began with my own father. I knew he wanted to visit Ireland on this trip for about the last year or so, and Caroline knew about it too. Truthfully, it came at a great time for me emotionally, mentally, spiritually, etc. The trip happened when it needed to happen for me. I was sinking here in a lot of ways. The entire flight to Dublin, I was keeping an eye on my son. Eighteen and one foot out the door already; to me, he is still this little toe headed kid I taught how to swing a golf club when he was three. 18 years happen too fast.

I kept asking Caroline to help keep my eyes and ears focused on all that was happening over there. After touring Dublin for a couple days, we took a train down to Cork. I kissed the Blarney Stone, which was something I remember telling Caroline I’d never do. I could almost see her face as I walked up to bend myself completely backwards to kiss this little area that millions before me had kissed. I cleared the thought, and just did it. I knew she had to be laughing at that point. At one point in the week, I had a meltdown. I missed my girls who were back here at home. I knew my youngest was having a rough week. I was just spent. Then I saw a distant rainbow. In the Bible, God presented a rainbow to show Noah and his family that He’d never flood the earth again. Caroline loved the symbolism in that act; that something beautiful could come from something difficult. Without the rain, there is no rainbow.

The rest of the week, I concentrated on enjoying where I was for the moment. I fully believe that my wife was behind that rainbow in the distant sky. My life has been turned upside down, inside out, and backwards. There’s a lot of days I don’t want to pick myself out of bed to do much of anything, but I also have good days. And for the longest time, I felt guilty for having those good days. I know I’m not funny, happy, silly dad a lot of the time. But I’m going to try to find beauty in the ashes. Maybe it will only last a day or a week, who knows. I have good days, and I have bad days. I really want, for my kids especially, to have good days. As much as they’ve lost in their young lives, they deserve to have a Dad who can put on a real smile.

It was a great trip, and I hope it’s one my son will talk about with his kids like I talk about going to London with my own father.


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