Our visit to Estonia was the greatest week of my life.
What makes me the happiest is that I could share such a life changing experience with my husband.
My adventures all happened before I married my husband, and he has had to listen to my anecdotes and tall tales for years, and now he has his own.
Estonia happened during a very difficult time in our personal lives.
A few weeks before we left, my only sibling, my 20-year-old brother, announced his engagement and wedding (to a girl he had yet to introduce to us). They chose to get married the exact weekend of the Special Convention, long after we had confirmed our attendance.
He suggested I simply come home early. As if that was even possible!
I was beyond hurt. He had been pushing me out of his life for the last two years, and I wasn't sure why, but I had always done my best to let it go and had always given him the benefit of the doubt. This was deliberate. He didn't want me to meet his girlfriend when they started dating, and now he didn't want me at his wedding.
His fiancée called me, I'm not sure why, but basically she said they weren't going to change the wedding date for me. That was the only date that "everyone" could be there. (I must be nobody, as I didn't register as being important enough.)
When I protested that I'm his family, that I was about to be her family too- she shut me down by saying that "he will be my family, but you will never be my family".
No wonder he didn't want to introduce us while they were dating.
It doesn't end there, because now no matter where I go or what I do, I run into someone who asks me how my brother is doing, or asks me about the wedding that I wasn't at, or asks me how I like my new sister-in-law.
There is no way I can answer those questions honestly.
I usually leave the conversation in tears.
And my family is just making things worse.
If I had behaved that way to my brother, my family would have protested my wedding entirely.
Since it happened to me (and I really am nobody) they all went to the wedding and treat me like a pariah for being extremely upset about how I was treated.
I didn't do anything wrong, yet somehow it damaged my relationship with my entire family.
Not one person stood up for me.
Three days before we left for Estonia my much beloved cat named Ramses became deathly ill.
Vet said he had kidney failure. The vet treated him while we were gone, and we came home to a barely alive hospice kitty.
A part of me died that day, too.
I have cried myself to sleep every night since.
I never had favorites between my 3 cats, but in his absence I now know he was the best. He loved me unconditionally, and the feeling was mutual.
Between the loss of my fur-baby and the loss of my family's respect, I have been inconsolable.
No one has any comforting words for me, only that I need to get over it.
It has made me very withdrawn and untrusting. I feel like my skin has been ripped off and interacting with people only results in salt in the wound.
I pray often for Jehovah to take this pain from me, to take this burden off of me.
Barry decided to take me camping on the beach over the holiday weekend to clear my mind for a few days.
We stayed at a magical campground in a Florida State Park with a beautiful white sugar sand beach, a snorkeling cove, an alligator lake, and wild deer walking through the woods. There were sea gulls, pelicans, woodpeckers, dolphins, flying fish, and tangs. We actually swam with the wild dolphins!
We ate fresh seafood every night and became lazy beach bums. Barry bought his first pair of flip flops. I used my boogie board that hadn't seen saltwater since 1999. We went snorkeling.
I moved to the beach when I was 18 (it was short lived), but I'm a total mermaid. I'm a certified scuba diver, snorkeler, and in those days I was a body boarder and a wannabe surfer.
Yet I live in Arkansas, in a town with no pools.
It was nice to be myself for a weekend. Unfortunately, we had to come home.
In my moments of grief, I try to focus on our last night in Estonia when we sang kingdom songs together in the town square. And then I reflect on being in the ocean with my husband watching the dolphins jump.
I always dreamed as a child of leaving home and finding a place where people cared about me and understood me. I'm homesick for a place I've never been.