Your Daddy and I just finished one of the best weeks of our lives. It began with a fairytale wedding in Utah, continued with an ultra luxurious vacation to Cabo San Lucas and concluded by reuniting me with four of my best friends.
Boarding our flight to Utah, we were embarking on a little getaway to clear our minds, distract us from our loss, and unplug from our reality.
We were escaping.
Usually an escape implies running away, forgetting, or leaving something behind. We were expecting to be able to pause our sadness for a moment. Go somewhere without constant reminders that we lost you. But, our escape proved to be just the opposite and that was just what we needed.
Your “Aunt” Shanna got married in Park City on the grounds of her parents’ property. For the last couple months, I’ve heard a lot about beautiful ideas for her big day, but what she put together was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was magical. The whimsical setting in the mountains set the tone, her gorgeous dress awed, the flowers stunned (especially her bouquet that was wrapped in a Ruby wristband), the food was decadent, and the music had everyone dancing. And while all of this certainly screams magic, it was the way the weekend festivities connected their loved ones that made it truly special.
It was hard not to notice that the wedding date marked two-months since we lost you, especially as we listened to Shanna’s dad give a heartfelt speech at the reception. He talked about how marriage is made up of experiences that will color their life together.
We watched Shanna dance with her Dad and I thought about how your Daddy will never get to have that experience with you. We’ll never meet your boyfriends. The man of your dreams will never ask our permission to marry you. There will be no wedding speech and no dress shopping. Losing you is an experience we will always wish we never had, but it’s part of our story.
Escaping to this magical wedding and witnessing precious moments between a father and his daughter reminded us that with bad experiences come good ones and together they paint the picture of a beautiful, complicated life; one that we are lucky enough to lead till death do us part.
From magical Park City, we took an early morning flight to Cabo San Lucas for four nights of R&R, but first, we had a short layover in San Jose. As we exited the tarmac, the first thing we saw was a Ruby Tuesday right in front of our gate. Thank you for giving us that little sign that you were with us on our trip.
We arrived at our villa a little after 2pm and were greeted by Antonio, our private concierge, who had margaritas, fresh guacamole and ceviche waiting for us. The view outside the patio door was out of a dream. The private pool and hot tub sat overlooking the Sea of Cortez. The water was so blue – I wish you could have seen it. We were in awe and overwhelmed. This would be a once in a lifetime trip.
Over the next few days, we basked in the warm Mexico sun, read books, cooled off in the pool, took naps, ate delicious food, drove around in a golf cart, drank refreshing cocktails, stargazed, listened to music, got lost in our own thoughts and in between, we talked about you.
Every time we considered ourselves lucky to be there, we couldn’t help but remember the price we paid to have those experiences. The only reason we were enjoying dinners along the Mexican coast was because we weren’t rocking you to sleep. The only reason we were drinking wine with our feet in the hot tub was because we weren’t watching you learn to roll onto your tummy.
On our last day in Mexico, we had lunch at the resort. We told our waiter, Sergio, that we had a wonderful time and were sad to be leaving paradise. His response really stuck with me.
“The thing about all of this? It’s temporary. San Diego…that’s real life.”
No matter where we go in the world, we will never escape thoughts of you. Truthfully, we would never want to. But, the funny thing about escaping is that it makes it easier to connect with, accept, and appreciate what awaits you when you return to your reality. Escaping gives you the clarity you need to be present. Thanks to the incredible generosity of your family who made the trip possible, we returned to San Diego refreshed and aware. We feel lucky to have had that opportunity.
Leaving paradise is never easy, except when you know that four of your best friends will be joining you for a reunion when you get home. We had a whole itinerary set for the weekend: fish tacos, hikes, acai bowls, the beach, downtown, a brewery – I was going to show them the best San Diego had to offer.
I’m calling it a reunion because we haven’t seen each other in over a year, but really, they were coming to rescue me.
Your “Aunt” Chelsea, “Aunt” Nancy, “Aunt” Susie, and “Aunt” Trotta have been like sisters to me for over ten years. For 38 Tuesdays, they received Snapchats of my growing baby belly. I gave them the down and dirty about pregnancy and shared with them my excitement to be your mom. They made sure you would be a fashionista in adorable IU tutus, designer onesies, swim suits, and jean bloomers. They loved you and everything you represented. When you passed away, they were heartbroken and like so many others, desperate to help.
Last week, they showed up with their Ruby red toenails ready to shower your Daddy and I with all the love and support we could stand. As we checked activities off the itinerary, they wore their Ruby red wristbands and it made me proud, but the best part of the trip happened when they “met” you.
I won’t say much about that visit, only because it meant so much to me, but the five of us have been through a lot together. I’ve always known that they love me, but as we sat in a circle around your grave, I hope you felt their love for you.
You have changed lives across the world, Ruby. Your spirit lives on in so many people and I am lucky enough to bear witness to it everyday. You brought my best friends to San Diego. You compel old friends and acquaintances to reach out with promises to appreciate heartbeats. You inspire complete strangers to lead meaningful lives. You have helped your Daddy and I understand how much we are loved. All of this and more keeps our hearts full and hopeful.
In many ways, our great escapes over the last week have brought us back to life. We are able to appreciate experiences that color our lives, we feel more present and grounded in reality, and above all else, we were reminded that we are truly not alone in all of it.
Until our next escape – I love you Rubsicle,