A brother’s love is a strong, sensitive, and unfailing.
While we were on vacation earlier this week, I saw so much evidence of my boys’ healing. I noticed some changes in their interactions with one another over the last few weeks as we took in a new family addition. It is nice to see them bonding once more instead of being arch enemies with each other 🙂
On vacation, we went to a small non-commercialized island where we had the beach practically to ourselves. This of course meant we also had the ocean to ourselves for the most part as well. Before the trip, both boys had concerns about safety. Neither could swim and were worried that I may not be able to save them. They worried about the heat, the sand, the frogs,…practically everything. I think they were afraid of a new experience, but knew I was not going to leave them home – they were going to see the ocean, like it or not!
On day 1 we drove all day and each of us crashed on our prospective beds at the hotel late at night.
On day 2 we drove the short distance to the beach and they faced their fears. Nick coaxed them out into the water as he laid down a few ocean rules. He showed them how to get past the breaks, not to worry about the sand, what brushed against their feet, and showed them the tranquility of body surfing the gentle waves. I was truly amazed. They did it – with no reservations. They went straight into the water, conquered that fear. Later that day, I watched my oldest son write in the sand to his daddy. I guess he was showing dad that he hadn’t forgotten him. Then, he wrote to his girlfriend (his name and hers in a heart) multiple times! It was sweet. I had a few minor concerns about their PTSD flaring up on this trip and wondered if they would reach out to my deceased husband. My concerns were confirmed, but not anything to worry about yet.
On day 3 they experienced the beach again, this time with stronger waves. We drove about an hour and 45 minutes to Ocean City Maryland. We went to the beach and the boys were awarded the opportunity to witness commercialization. They experienced mass traffic, city culture, saw what they thought were hot bodies (very little bathing suits and a lot of skin), odd people, live musicians, men and women flirting among the masses, and much more turbulent waters of the ocean. We spent about three hours on the beach and in the ocean before we toured the boardwalk. The waves were crashing into the beach, the wind was stronger and people were elbow to elbow. The boys approached the water apprehensively. Nick went with them, but warned them about the undertow currents and told them how to make it back to shore if sucked out to sea.
I could see the fear written on their faces and I knew that I would run out there and save them if I could. They feared losing each other as much as they had feared losing their daddy. They feared losing me and were relieved that I stayed on the shore line this day. I stayed with the towels and our belongings. The honesty factor flew out the window when we left our favorite island on Chincoteague. This was wild, crazy, and chaotic.
I didn’t interfere as they bonded together, encouraged each other “they could do it” and reassured each other that they’d be okay. I can’t express how hard it was as a mother to watch and not jump in there and erase all of their fears.
They went into the ocean. Holding hands. Forming a chain of protection as they had vowed to save each other if the need arose. They stayed close to Nick in the water for comfort. Before long, my oldest was waaaaay out in the ocean on his boogie board. He was a natural. He took to the waves like a dolphin. My youngest was not far out though as he stood aside and watched his big brother adventure out into the deep.
They had learned to swim and hadn’t realized it!! They had conquered a fear and were not aware. They were out there swimming with fish, crabs, jelly fish, sting rays, sand sharks, and lord only knows what else 🙂
From the side lines, I watched. From the side lines I was proud of them and couldn’t tell them. They’ve told me that they are fine if I just help them and not actually say “PTSD” or “Are you okay”. My Momdar (mom radar) is supposed to go off at just the right time in their minds to save them from their own thoughts.
On day 4 we were back on Chincoteague Island and we went to the beach at Assateague Island. They were beginning to wear thin, tire down – like a tire going flat. The hot sun, wind, and ocean water was beginning to take a toll of them. Irritable and grumpy, we promised them a break on day 5. I saw more sand writing on day 4 to their daddy and they brought him up a time or two in conversation. No one cried, no one withdrew. They were healing nicely.
On day 5 Nick rented a bike for my youngest son and Josh to ride around town. My youngest conquered another fear. He learned how to ride a bike! He rode that bike all over the town while Nick and I went to the beach. He conquered a fear of independence and being alone also. He was rather happy with himself that he rode as long and as far as he did on the Island. By car, the entire island can be crossed in less than 10 mins if you obey the speed limit of 25mph. It was very small. My oldest also conquered a fear of being alone in a new place. He didn’t tell me he was afraid with words, I read it on his face. He talked to his girlfriend all day (I’m guessing) as he walked around the island. Both boys are still healing and growing on day 5 🙂
On day 6 the boys didn’t want to go to the beach, they wanted bikes again. Nick rented bikes for them and they rode all day through the town. It was day 2 of a new-found freedom and they loved it! On this day all three boys had an argument blow out and they resolved it mostly on their own. Nick and I only had to intervene slightly. They were growing, bonding, learning each other and developing a new brotherly love (whether they realized it or not).
On day 7 we went back to the beach one last time for shell collecting. They had all formed a new bond and were unaware of it. Each of them I saw talk to each other, interact with each other, and show concern in a new way.
This vacation was a healing experience for them. Therapy could not have provided what this trip did.
Praise you Jesus for your Love, Grace, Peace, and Healing!! 🙂