Monday, October 24, 2011

Cruise recap

Here we are, back from our cruise. It was four parts fabulous, one part distressing. Fabulous because, despite the constant threat of rain in the first two days, we only got rained-on once and enjoyed some warm-but-not-hot days in the Bahamas and Key West. Fabulous because we enjoyed uninterrupted, relaxed time together. Fabulous because we did not need to worry about Olivia, who was enjoying some exclusive grandparent time. Fabulous because I was REALLY looking forward to a vacation.

Distressing because being there meant I was missing my grandmother's funeral.

We got the call about Grandma while eating breakfast at our connecting airport on the way to Florida on Monday. Grandma had been in decline for years, and recently had an infection that led to an inability to swallow food. The week before the cruise, hospice said it could be days or weeks, depending on the strength of her heart. It turned out to be days. It was not unexpected at all, but still always shocking and hard when someone you love dies. I knew it was coming, but found myself fighting tears at unexpected moments those first couple of days of the cruise.

The funeral was planned for Friday, which was the day we'd be flying back. If we were doing a 5-day beach vacation, we would have cut it short by a day and flown back on Thursday. But you can't exactly do that with a cruise. So while my whole family was gathered for her funeral, I was sitting in a Miami airport listening to Herman Cain explain his 9-9-9 plan on CNN.

When my grandpa died three years ago, the whole family came. To my recollection, of the 12 children, 29 grandchildren and all of the great-grandchildren (there are 24 now, I don't know how many we had 3 years ago) we were missing two cousin who was deployed to Afghanistan and another cousin who is a priest who is studying in Rome. So, I felt bad missing the funeral for vacation. Kind of a peer-pressure thing. Even more (and selfishly so) I missed visiting with all of my family. We are tight, but it is rare that we ALL get together at the same time.

So, yeah, there was this thought in the back of my mind during the whole cruise that I should not be enjoying myself so much while everyone at home was planning a funeral. Why do we do that to ourselves? Grieving makes sense. But guilt is so useless.

Anyway, that aside, we had a lovely time. Really. We were there with a bunch of priests on retreat (Joe's role was to introduce the retreat master and to lead a focus group). We ate dinner with the group every night and had Mass together every morning. The rest of the day was our own. We bought a bunch of crap for Olivia and ate and ate and ate and walked and enjoyed each other's company. It was a great week.

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