One week to go! I cannot believe how many times I've repacked my suitcase in my head. I don't do this much advance planning when going with the family in the car, but being limited to one suitcase, one carryon and a purse (which I normally don't carry) is driving me insane!
Why am I expending all this mental energy? Because next Tuesday my husband and I leave on a thirteen-day tour of Alaska! You should be proud of me, by the way -- I didn't put that last sentence all in capitals. Yes, I'm that excited!!!!! (I'll make it up in exclamation points)
The trip has a sad beginning. Last summer, my sister-in-law was killed while riding her bicycle. She wore a new helmet and had gone for just a couple of miles in a leisurely spin around some country roads. At one point a small truck passed her going in the opposite direction and she made a U-turn after it to head for home. Unfortunately, she had her headphones in and the music on and didn't hear the Harley coming up behind her. They collided and she was killed instantly.
She and my mother-in-law had long talked of taking a trip to Alaska. Always it was, "One of these days..." But with my sister-in-law's death, it was "never." My mother-in-law had lost her husband of over 50 years just a year and a half earlier and losing her only daughter so suddenly was really, really hard.
But she's stubborn, my MIL, and we love her for it. She beat leukemia and she beat this the same way -- with determination and prayer. As the beneficiary of her daughter's insurance policy, she felt terrible about taking the money, then realized she could make their trip come true in a very real way. So in one week, my MIL is taking her remaining two sons and their wives (of which I am one) and a niece to Alaska to commemorate her daughter's life and desire to see Denali.
So there's some bittersweetness to this trip. On the down side are our memories of a life cut too short (she was just 40 when she died). On the up side are our memories of a vibrant life that played hard, laughed often and gave more than she asked for. It is the latter that we celebrate on this trip.
And so I will go back to agonizing over whether I really need that third pair of shoes and which blouse goes best with that skirt (which one will roll up smallest!!). And with every item I pack I'll think of Michele and smile with tears in my eyes.
Play safe everyone. Please.