I stumbled across this picture and it made me smile. It was taken years ago as my Mom, my niece Makaylah and I embarked on our first international vacation together.
My Mom and I have been taking Makaylah away with us since she was born. It has always been a way for us to connect and spend valuable time together creating memories. When my brother died in 2013, the importance of this was even greater for all of us. It became this time to connect, a time to have some fun and to show Makaylah the diversities of the world by experiencing different cultures and locations around the world. It was a girls' holiday!
Sadly, this year is the first year where we haven't been able to go away because of the pandemic. Makaylah is now a teenager and of course, her time is often spent with friends as most teenagers do, so my Mom and I feel this sense of loss, this summer in particular more than others.
As each day passes and Makaylah grows older, we realize our time together diminishes as Makaylah blossoms into a beautiful, courageous young woman. We understand that there will come a day when she may not be able to take a week or two to come and spend it with us as her life takes flight.
So far, I remember things like Makaylah swimming with dolphins for the first time and touching the baby jellyfish while we snorkelled in the ocean! I remember laughing at my Mom's decent down a waterslide, laughing until we realized she wasn't surfacing and then we panicked as she had to be rescued by the lifeguard.
I will forever remember when the young Cuban boys started to flirt with Makaylah and I had to accept that we were heading into unchartered territories. Thus started the questions about how to flirt back, how to make a person notice you. I could hear my brother yelling in my ear to stop the conversation because even he in spirit form couldn't accept that his daughter was growing up.
The day she tried passion fruit for the first time, or a virgin piña colada and found the courage to swim up to the bar and order them for herself. Or the day we all drooled over our jerk chicken thinking it was probably the best meal we had eaten in years! (I still dream about that jerk chicken!) The games we'd play like Heads Up making fools of ourselves and watching the replay videos in uproarious laughter! And of course, sharing in conversation after my Mom would fall asleep, staying up late quietly giggling or having some incredibly interesting conversations as she would ask questions to learn more about her father and the similarities they shared.
Time is fleeting! If there is anything I have learned from my brother's untimely death, it's that we never truly know what tomorrow brings. Cherish today! Cherish the short little spurts of time when you can be together and revel in that together. Take time to create memories, the memories that you want to create and not just those that are left behind. One day, and it's true for all of us, memories will be all we have left of those we cherish and love.
I hold tight to the memories we have made so far and I hold onto the hope of many more that we will create in the future, well, at least if I have a say about it!