Lessons Learned at Sea

I just returned home from my very first cruise. Other than a few bumps, sways, and waves, I loved it.

Food was prepared, just for me. (Any chef that can cook around my umpteen allergies is a miracle worker.)

There was always entertainment, somewhere on the ship.

But the best part? Staring at the deep blue ocean. A blue that glistens like glitter sprinkled from heaven.

My husband and I sat in a corner of the pool deck, unaware of anything but creation, listening to glaciers crinkle and crack, watching orcas show-off sleek, black bodies, seeing clouds paste themselves between mountain and sea.

Magical. Memorable. Absolutely amazing.

But for others, the world wasn’t so grand. Somewhere on our ship, in an unknown little cabin, a life was lost. When I found out, I was very, very sad.

I didn’t know the person who died, not sure if I’d ever seen or spoken to the family. I didn’t see them get off the ship, ready to return home with their loved one’s body. But the heartache of it all still sits with me.

It makes me realize how short life is, and how important it is to enjoy each moment.

As I prepared for this vacation, I expected to learn a few lessons. Often, I do.

Vacations teach me to be quiet, enjoy my world, live with few belongings. Vacations teach me to be content with less, and relish every moment. But this vacation, it taught me something new.

It began with packing, and repacking, and packing for a third time. Stressing over what to bring, how many pairs of jeans and dressy pants, what shoes and sweaters I would need. In the evening, should I be casual or dress-up?

Stressed, frustrated, confused. Making trips to malls, purchasing clothes, buying larger luggage. Placing too many things in my suitcase. Worried about how I would look.

How shallow I can be.

With all the packing, and wondering what to wear, I had forgotten what this vacation was about. My husband and I were celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary. I had turned it into a show about me.

Then something happened.

Death has a way of teaching those of us who are left behind. Reminding us what is important. What life is about. Not possessions. Not suitcases, or how many shoes needed for one week.

A life, gone.

A widow. Lost. Forlorn. No hand to hold, no fingers to intertwine, no arms to wrap around when frigid winds blow.

Someone, somewhere, all alone.

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