This article was originally published on June 2, 2012 on my old blog
A brother's love is a strong, sensitive, and unfailing.
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 :-)
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.
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
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 :-)
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.
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.
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 :-)
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).
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
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!! :-)