We are finally here. The countdown has been on for weeks now, but we are finally here.
It blows my mind that is has been a year yet somehow only a year. It was yesterday but a lifetime ago. This same house, this same time of year, the same weather, but a completely different family. A different mood. A completely different place.
This house has come to mean so much to our family. This time last year, when Brett was in the hospital, this is where we stayed. Except for an odd weekend here or there, this is where Melissa was the entire time he was in the hospital. It is the driveway that I left at 3 in the morning to get back for work and Colby, and the one I would pull into 3 days later at 2 or 3 in the morning to get as many days as I could here with Brett and Melissa, but being home for Colby also. The owner of the house has become a dear family friend and a person that my family will be forever grateful to and who we could never repay. She will forever be a part of our family story.
It is an hour drive from here to the hospital where Brett was. It was the longest drive I have ever made but where the reasons for that changing with which direction I was headed. On the way to visit him, the excitement to spend an hour with him building, but the dread of seeing him that place, both the hospital and where he was mentally, would beat that excitement down. Dread is undefeated against excitement. Then on the way home, I couldn’t get away from that hospital fast enough. The car just wouldn’t go fast enough to get me back here to our escape from the world. Either direction, that hour took forever. There were days where one or both of us cried on the way up and the way home.
We hid here. We came here each day knowing it was just the 2 of us. We were all we had. We fought counselors, nurses, doctors together. When one of us would be on the verge of collapsing, the other held you up. I didn’t think our marriage could get closer, but it did each day. In this house.
Every time we pulled in the driveway, this house hugged us. There is a peace and serenity here that I have never felt anywhere outside two other places, my house and the house I grew up in. It is no coincidence that my love for this house starts with the geography. This is Pat Conroy territory. These are the rivers and the marshes that were the setting for all of his soul singing books. Where The Great Santini lived and ultimately died and Ben Meechum became a man. Where Luke Wingo, The Prince of Tides gave his life for what he believed. Where Shyla Fox ended her suffering and forever silenced the Beach Music. Where Will McLean taught me what friendship was in the Lords of Discipline. It is where John Hardin made his brothers jump off the bridge and swim home naked. I already knew and fell in love with this place.
Just across the bay are the lights of Beaufort. On a weekday morning, I can hear the rifle range at Parris Island, and if it is clear, calm and quiet enough, you can hear large packs of recruits sounding off. This house it in the dead center of all of the things that have shaped me. This area is what I have, for many years, called my anchor. As often as I have been able to, really any time I had an excuse to, I would come back. A visit to Parris Island every few years reminded me of a time where I accomplished something that a great number of people were betting (and I am sure some hoping) on my failure. January 31, 1992 when I left that island, I believed I could do anything. There was no self doubt, there was no fear of failure, if you wanted it enough, it could be accomplished.
But to accomplish it, you need to hear and follow orders immediately, without question to those with the training and expertise. Maybe that is a skill I should employ with my doctors for a change. To put my care, physical and mental, somewhere much closer to the top of the list than at the dead bottom. It is a place where you learn the best way you can help a team is to be the best you that you can be. Where you learn that who you grow into can be entirely different than who you are now. I will ride over on Monday and spend some time on Parris Island. To touch the anchor. To remind me of my own strength and ability to fight through anything without giving up. Breathe in that discipline just for a while to remind me to apply that discipline in my own head and in the practices I need each day so that I can be me.
This house has an oddity that really confused me at first, but the more I have thought about it, the more appropriate it seems for our family. We are on the southern tip of an island, kind of on a small bay. From the front porch, you are looking at the beach and ocean. However, that is west. So we not only get the view of the water all day, we get spectacular sunsets in the evening. The east coast is really not known for its sunsets! No small wonder that we spend about 50% of the time that we are here on that porch. We have napped, cried, laughed, worked, talked with our therapists, eaten, drank, smoked, felt everything and nothing on that porch. But every single night that we are here, we have watched the sun set from that porch, then took our nightly walk on the beach.
There is a lesson in that. Even when everyone thinks you are facing the wrong direction, you can see an unexpected sunset. Be open to experiencing things from a different perspective.
The 5 of us, here in our favorite place. Together.
I am quite sure I will write more this weekend, just need to say thank you to the house first!
Love Yourself First Always.