HOW WE GOT HERE: A LOVE STORY (SORTA)

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All it took was one Hawaiian rain...

Mike and I were sitting on a beach when all the sudden a light storm rolled overhead. Everyone quickly fled, packing up their things and throwing their shirts over their heads. We took our time walking down the beach and back up a plumeria covered staircase to a little rinse station located near the private entrance. I remember feeling the light rain drops and sun on my skin simultaneously and succumbing to this overwhelming feeling of joy and romance for the island. I looked over at Mike and with a smile said " Okay. I think I could do this." He smiled back...This was the moment we fell in love with Maui.

Back in May of 2018...

on the day of our departure flight to Maui, my Dad was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. I remember feeling confused and numb as we boarded the plane. I thought about how ironic it was to be headed to my Dads all time favorite place in the world on what had to have been the worst days of his life. In some fucked up way I was getting the opportunity to learn more about my father without actually being with my father. Seeing Maui was a rollercoaster of emotions in which I will not get into but it was also the start to something so amazing, that unfortunately resulted from something extremely devastating. Towards the end of our six day Hawaii trip, Mike and I received news that my Dad could potentially only have a few short days left. I was heartbroken knowing that there was a possibility of my father not being there upon my arrival home. Luckily that wasn't the case. I was blessed with three more months of bonding with my Dad.

From the moment Mike and I touched down in Chicago our lives were turned upside down. We abruptly packed our things, moved out of our cozy Chicago apartment and into my Dad's house. He needed full time care and could no longer make it up the stairs. We brought his bed down into the living room and those round the clock nights of Mike and I crammed on the couch right up next to my Dad's bed made for some rough sleep. Throw in the fact that it was also the middle of my busy wedding season. There just wasn't enough time in the day to take care of my father, work, and sleep. I gave up sleep. As trying and down right impossible taking care of my Dad seemed at times, Mike and I gained so many new and hilarious memories with my him in which we would have never gained otherwise (looking on the bright side here). Sickness is a crazy thing, cancer especially. It is rude, relentless, and never fair. Dad passed away on the morning of Aug 27th around 4:00 (the number "4" being his favorite number. I see you dad!). I am not sad. I am not happy. I am not resentful or angry. I am just thankful for the time I did have with him.

Fast forward a few months and here Mike and I were, living in my Dad's house, with my Dad's things, but no Dad. I wanted to move. Mike and I had previously plan to move to Charleston, South Carolina in early 2018 and that plan almost came true twice before Dad got sick. We decided we were going to try for a third time. Our minds were set. We were moving to South Carolina in the fall of 2019....PSYCH! After more and more visits to and from South Carolina for work, I quickly realized that Charleston in fact, was not where I wanted to end up. So here we were again back to square one, stuck in the suburbs in a house we didn't want with no idea where to go. Do we move back to Chicago? Do we stay in the suburbs and make the house our own? Do we find somewhere else to move? I was annoyed! I found myself thinking back to Maui. I would reminisce about how I felt when I was there and how the new experiences gave Mike and I such happiness. I filled the house with pictures from Maui. We talked about it every day saying that we would give anything to always feel the way we feel when we are traveling.

It took long enough, a month or two to be exact, but the day dreamer side of me decided to chime in with a lightbulb idea. I thought to myself, "How are we possibly supposed to know where we want to end up if we haven't even seen enough of the world?" Inside I was screaming "We should take a year off!" I was home alone wresting with this idea while Mike was at work. He had no clue what my brain was up to. I spent the rest of that evening talking to myself about logistics, time frames and finances. In my mind, I needed to have a damn good speech in order to convince Mike that a year away could end up being the best decision we ever make. I put together a long as hell speech about why this was a good idea and by the time Mike arrived home I couldn't wait another second to tell him my thoughts. I had crazy eyes filled with wanderlust and as soon as I pitched the idea to him he replied with "Okay. Im down!"

...HOLY SHIT! I didn't even need a speech! I barely even needed a reason! And I about pooped myself after hearing his reply!

Growing up I always talked about traveling the world, but in reality, it was just a day dream. Now that very day dream is a reality and the closer and closer we get to leaving the more and more excited, nervous, terrified, and antsy we are getting. I don't like to think about where we would be if we hadn't caught our flight to Maui. I try to imagine having stayed home when they found the cancer in my Dad but I don't think we were meant to stay home. My Dad wanted us to go. He told us to go.

Without Maui, and the love we found there, there would be no year away. There wouldn't even be an idea of a year away. Without my Dad getting sick, this path would have never came into light. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and even after his death, my goal is to continue making him proud. Like myself, Dad loved his many travels and I quickly came to find and understand his love for Hawaii. Because of this, I know now that if Dad was here today, he would say "Just go."

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