Before last week, I honestly don’t remember the last time I took a vacation. I do, however, remember the last time I took time off from work. It was 19 months ago, when my son was born. Even then, I only took 3 days off while my wife recovered from the physical mauling that was our son being born. You see, I’m a small business owner and I am the only employee at my shop. So for me to take a vacation is essentially business suicide. I have to shut down the whole operation for however long I decide to be gone. So I never decide to be gone.
Until this past week. The stress of trying to support my family with a struggling small business coupled with the regular stresses of marriage, being overworked, fatherhood and the unavoidable lack of sleep that comes with such a gruesome combination led me to finally tell myself to, “take a break, for Christ’s sake”. You know, before the tipping point came and I did something regrettable.
So I decided to make it an aggressive vacation and make it a multi-leg trip. The first leg was to head out to my old stomping grounds of Missoula, Montana. I went to college in Missoula and still have many friends that live out there. If you are unfamiliar with Missoula, it is a beautiful town with many great options for outdoor enthusiasts like myself. Fishing, whitewater rafting, camping, skiing. You name it, Missoula has plenty of it. But I was just going there to see my friends.
And I wanted to see as many friends as possible while I was there. Which is good, because while I was there, all my friends in town were having an intervention for one of my best friends. He has fallen off the radar, so to speak, lost his job, lost his house, became homeless and was on the streets asking people where to find heroin and meth. You can see why this was the first leg of my vacation. We were able to lure him into a local attorney’s office by having his parents tell him that they were hiring these attorneys to help him get out of his legal troubles. You should have seen the look on his sunken face when he saw us! It was priceless!!
So there I was, just looking around the room at some of my favorite people on the planet, all in one place. I was in disbelief. I didn’t think we would all get together like this again after college, but here we were. Reading our letters to Russ and telling him how much we cared for him. The love in the room was tangible. After Russ left the intervention, insisting that he does’t need any help, the rest of us went out for a drink. Or 10, I don’t really remember. It was maybe the best cry that I’d ever had, brought on by the repeating memory of his mother on her hands and knees face down on the sidewalk, sobbing after giving up on trying to chase Russ down. Such a good cry. So many good hugs.
Once my Missoula trip had wrapped up, it was time for the second leg of my trip. On to Spokane, Washington. I have family in Spokane, so I figured that I may as well see some family as long as I was seeing some friends. Again, I wanted to see as many family members as possible while I was in town. And again, I was lucky in my timing because my cousin had recently taken his own life and the whole family was in town and in one location. We were all staying at my uncle’s house, the one who’s son had recently passed. There were about 25 of us staying there, in the house or sleeping in campers scattered around his 12 acre property. After the previous couple days in Missoula, I didn’t think I had any tears left in me. But boy was I wrong! So many more good tears and hugs came from my time in Spokane, mostly brought on by the time spent sitting beside the fire on the back porch. Listening to my uncle cry his guts out in his bedroom.
The week was over in a blur, and it was time to rush home to take care of my struggling business. I flew in and got home at around 3am and needed to be into work by 7am. After listening to the many angry messages that were left on my work phone, I went out to check the mail. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, it had been raining so everything was green. On my way back into the office from the mail box, I spotted a chickadee. A chickadee is a small black and white bird that sings a joyful song. As a child, we had a bird house hanging right outside the window of our dining room. Every year, a family of chickadees would come and build a nest in it and I would sit there every morning and watch them and listen to their song. So I see this chickadee and I get enveloped by its song and flight. When suddenly, it makes a jerking motion, mid air, and falls from the sky. The bird landed no more than two feet in front of me on the side walk. It was dead, and it was time for me to get back to work.
The story above is a true story about last week and Monday morning. I hope your time recently has been better than mine.