Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bittersweet Memories from LBI

A year ago this week we were enjoying a family vacation at the beach. Our family of three was joined by all of our siblings, their children, and our parents for a lovely week in Long Beach Island, New Jersey. It was an unforgettable week and given what the following six months held in store for our family, I couldn't be more thankful that we were able to share such a special time together. It's hard to believe that a whole year has passed since we were there.

On our first morning at the beach house, Domani woke up early - before 6am! Since it was just the three of us we decided it was the perfect opportunity to take a quiet walk to the beach and check everything out. I wrote in my journal from that day that Domani seemed mesmerized by the waves and a seagull that decided to land nearby. I don't specifically remember those moments, but I do remember that I was mesmerized by how special it was to watch Joe holding Domani on the beach with the sun rising over the ocean. Thankfully, I snapped a photo of that moment and of the many that would follow over the next 6 days.
July 16, 2011

A sampling of my memories from that week...

We held Domani's hands as he stepped in the ocean. Again. And again. And again.
We watched as Domani explored the sand and its shells, the water and its seaweed, and every nook and cranny of the house where we stayed.
The kids flew kites on the beach.
We played Uno in the living room.
Uno with Dad

Joe and his brother took hours driving all over looking for a charcoal grill and rye bread so we could make szalonna.
We became big fans of Tiki Taco.
Domani ate and ate and ate and ate.
He also walked and walked and walked and walked. (He had just gotten the knack of it before we left for vacation.)
New shoes for walking!
I slammed my finger in our car door. It was bleeding and gross, but of course Joe drove us back to the house full of his usual "Joe Cool".
We all made smores and watched movies.
We played lots of skee ball.
Domani was fascinated with the seagulls and the seashells.
We went to Fantasy Island where Domani went on his first ride ever with his Dad and a train ride with me.
Fantasy Island Amusement Park
We spent more money than we'd probably like to admit on games in the arcade, but in the end Joe won a Mets bear and an Elmo for Domani so it was worth it.
Finally the crane yields some prizes!
We took lots of family naps and they were wonderful.
Domani wore his Dad's hat.
Wearing Dad's hat on the Mets blanket
We cooked out on the grill and relaxed with drinks.
We bought Domani his first pair of water shoes.
We ate at The Chicken or The Egg and Domani's cousin fell asleep with her forehead on the table.
Domani's cousin takes a snooze.
We built sandcastles and dug giant holes.
Some of the kids thought it would be fun to bury themselves in those holes and some of the parents thought it was fun to help.
We splashed in the waves.
With Aunt Naomi waiting for the waves

Domani declared his independence by chomping down on the whole pancake instead of the little pieces his Dad broke apart for him.
We sang "I Like to Eat Apples and Bananas" at the kitchen table in the beach house.
Domani posed for a picture with his face in the middle of a giant clam.
Ever since D's photo at Cooperstown, we can't resist these...

Thinking about all of these memories this week is hard. The truth is it probably would be less painful to slam my finger in the door again. I've been thinking a lot about that week though and how different all of our lives were just last summer. I am reminded though, that the reason these memories are painful now is that they were so happy then. And I think the best thing to do with that is to remember and to keep creating amazing moments. None of us know how much time we have here so why not live in the happy of the now while we have the chance? I'm glad that's exactly what we all did this time last year.


  1. My memory from that week is seeing Joe sitting on the front porch with Domani on his lap. Joe had his hat on. They seemed so peaceful sitting there. Jimmy was there chatting with Joe, while keeping one eye on Ty and Kenny who were running around in the yard.
    I don’t remember my exact thoughts at that particular moment, but I don’t think cancer or death were among them. At that movement I am sure I was just enjoying the coolness of the porch, as I watched (I’m sure with a smile on face) the obvious joy of my sons with their sons. When I reflect on that moment I realize it was certainly the "happy of the now". Memories are like candid snapshots freezing snippets of time in our minds. And sometimes, the lasting memories turn out to be those quiet unassuming ones.
    Thank you for recalling and sharing your snippets of that special week on LBI.

    1. I love the visual created by your memory from the front porch. To me, that was very much the essence of this vacation - the simple act of being present and enjoying each other for what we had in that moment. There was a joy in everything we did while we were there just because we were there together.

  2. Beautiful post. Grief is not the process of forgetting. It is the process of remembering with less pain and more joy. I hope there will be less pain and more joy in your memories..,

    1. So very true, Malinda. Thinking of you and your family especially now as you mourn your grandmother. It seems like every day I am given a new reason to hate this thing called cancer. Thanks for all you do in the fight for a cure.

  3. Anne, I loved this quote at the end of your post:

    "None of us know how much time we have here so why not live in the happy of the now while we have the chance? I'm glad that's exactly what we all did this time last year."

    I've said this same thing to myself quite a few times since Aimee's (my wife) death seven months ago. For me, it's a promise to try and not waste the days I have now, even if they are filled with grief, because for all I know they are the last days I have. Plus for me, I want to set an example for my daughter that life goes on even in the most horrible things, and that we need to find the strength to live that life to the fullest.

    Thanks for commenting on my blog, and as a result allowing me to find yours. I'm sorry our paths crossed for this reason.

    1. Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your thoughtful comments. As I think I mentioned in my comment on your post, I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog last night. I've been having a rough few weeks and last night I was the only person to show up to my monthly grief support group (not good...) In short, I was in need of that connection with someone else going through similar circumstances and if I had commented on all the posts that I identified with, you would have thought I was off my rocker :-)

      As for living life to the fullest I know exactly what you mean about setting an example for your daughter. I feel that way with my son and even on my worst days I try to incorporate some positive thing. Today when I got home from work we spent a good 10 minutes tickling each other and laughing our butts off. It was great and I needed it so much because what I really wanted to do was curl up on the couch and sleep. Love those moments.

      Glad that we will now be able to follow each other's journey through cyberspace.

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