This photo was taken at Lake Mead in Nevada about two weeks before Phil died. We were on a family vacation with some wonderful friends, and spent some time in a gorgeous cove. You are looking at Phil and my daughter, Caitlin, preparing to jump off of those rocks into the lake below. Notice that I am not up on the rocks.
Phil was Mr. Adventure. He loved all things fast, dangerous, exhilarating, physically challenging, and just plain fun. My kids loved his willingness to try anything...though that risk taking spirit severely tested my patience on more than one occasion! I will confess to holding my breath as I watch the scene you see pictured here. My imagination was working overtime though I watched Phil check the depth of the water, heard him give her directions on how to jump, what to avoid, and what to expect upon entering the water. Of course he followed all this good sense with the admonition..."Whatever you do, don't land on a rock." She jumped, didn't land on a rock, and immediately climbed out to repeat the experience.
When we lost Phil, we also lost the laughter and adventure that was a part of our daily lives with him. The house became quieter, our vacation trips lacked most risk taking activities, we no longer went to Mexico to light fireworks on the beach (hey, you could accidentally blow your eye out!), and sometimes my kids lamented this loss out loud. When they did I immediately felt that I was failing them. I felt pressured to be fun. Ugh. I also felt that having just me wasn't good enough. What I didn't realize at the time was that we were grieving. I know, a real revelation. But I underestimated the fact that grief sucks much of the fun out of daily life. Just existing was hard enough, how could I muster the energy to be fun, too? When did I get a break from having to be everything to everyone and smile while juggling all the balls that were thrown at me when I lost my husband?
The answer ended up being when I was ready to just be myself. I am fun (really I am, ask the widows ;), and though I don't do things like Phil did them, we still manage to laugh, frolic, and enjoy the sunshine of our summer days. Some of what we do now Phil would hate! We sleep in past 8:00AM...a sin in his book. We drive long distances just because we want to...he would have thought this a waste of time and gas. We see a midnight showing of a movie now and then...he would have fallen asleep for sure. Somehow we have found a way to reshape our family unit. No one wanted to, but we faced the challenge of rebuilding our lives in the same way he faced Lake Mead four years ago...by being willing to jump.