I started out 2019 with some great goals. I was going to get back into working out. I was going to focus on my career and finding my happy spot. I was going to go on great trips, and including a trip to Bali for my 40th birthday and my first ever solo trip. I started the year in Malta, on a girls trip with some of my best girl friends, enjoying life. I came back ready to tackle the year!
Then…February happened. In February, life was turned upside down when my father was diagnosed with a Stage 4 cancerous tumor in his sinus cavity. After that point all travel plans were up in the air. My carefully planned year was thrown into the wind and suddenly I was faced with a lot of unknowns. I flew more this year than I have in a long, long time, but the majority of the travel was back and forth to the east coast to help with my dad.
Yes, this year was hard. But it also brought some amazing things:
Lots of Family Reunions
This summer I spent a lot of time with family, but also saw family and friends I hadn’t in years. Everyone came to visit my dad and check in on him, so I got to see them all when I was my dad’s caregiver. One of the best was with my stepsister, who brought her daughter, just two weeks older than my daughter. The three kids had so much fun together every day this summer. In addition in March we were invited to a religious function with my husband’s family in Pittsburgh. It happened to be during a weekend the kids had a day off for Teacher Development. We found some cheap tickets, and booked it. We booked it one week before we found out about my dad, and bought no travel insurance. I’m glad we didn’t. That forced us to take the trip and see our family, and NOT cancel it. Then in November, I had an unexpected work trip to Chicago, where I got to spend the evening with one of my husband’s cousins and his family of fun, boisterous boys! During a trip to New York, we got to meet up and have lunch with my aunt, who I haven’t seen since my wedding. Finally in December we had a huge gathering with my husband’s friends we hadn’t met in a long time. They had all come over around the same time and gravitated to each other. This group welcomed me with open arms when we were first dating, and we have kept in touch through the years. For the first time over a decade we were all at the same place at the same time, and spent hours talking, catching up and simply enjoying each other’s company.
More Weekend Get-a-ways
With our time off being used to go back and forth to New Jersey, we as a family did more weekend get-aways, and even some Parent/Kid trips. In May we explored Folsom, California, which ignited our interest in Gold Country, which we explored further as a family in November. In October, we took our first ever Mommy/Daughter trip, where we attended our first Girl Scouts Jamboree together. That same weekend my husband and son did a “Dude’s Weekend” where they got a hotel in our area and went to movies, played laser tag, mini-golf, and ate all different types of food my daughter and I don’t enjoy.
I took the summer off
I took a leave of absence to help with my father’s surgery and recovery. Sure, a lot of it was hard. But the middle was fantastic. The kids were in New Jersey with me, they got cousin time and unlimited pool time. We spent many weekends at the beach, and even managed a weekend get-a-way to Wildwood, New Jersey. My kids had their first summer ever with no camp, no schedules, just a pure summer. They loved it and were not thrilled to return the to the rigid structure of camp and school. I just wish I could give them that every summer.
We made it to Bali
I had booked the trip to Bali much in advance of the actual trip. And for this one I got travel insurance. I was ready to cancel, to call the whole thing off. But my father insisted we go. And I’m glad he did. With a year in such turmoil, it was refreshing to focus on the core four of us as a family. To relax and simply be present. It was a rare gift, and we were lucky to be able to do it in such a beautiful location.
We spent the holidays in New Jersey
After nine years, we are spending the Christmas holiday season in New Jersey. My nephew was born in October and I was desperate to both meet him and see my dad post-radiation. We flew Christmas Day , as a family of five this time (yep, we brought our new dog with us), to New Jersey. We had a huge gathering on Boxing Day where the kids were spoiled rotten with presents. Then we went to New York to see the famous Radio City Rockettes and the Rockefeller Center tree.
2019 didn’t go as planned. But it did teach me about my own strength and my own self-worth. It taught me to let go, and go with what is needed, not what was planned. 2020 is shaping up to be a full year.
We are planning:
- A trip to Hawaii
- A trip to DC and Virginia
- Two trips to New Jersey
- More Girl Scout camping trips
- India for the holidays
Will all this happen? I don’t know. I hope it does. After 2019 I need a good year. But if it doesn’t I will take the lessons of this year into the next, learning to adapt as I go. Because life is not always what you planned. Life is what you make it. After this year, I’ve learned to never take that for granted and to enjoy every minute. Here is to 2020, a new year and a new decade. May it be the best one yet!