The story behind the trip to Laguna Beach…a celebration weekend was in order!

I already shared some of the photos taken from our Laguna Beach weekend. It took some creativity with a calendar to carve out an entire three-day weekend in the busiest month of the year, but we had a reason to prioritize a get-away.

Curve of Coast Dana Point

We were cashing in on a belated  Mother’s Day present. In May I had promised my mom a full day of shopping in Laguna Beach.  A day at the beach would also be a late spring kick-off to a season we hoped would be full of many little get-aways.

Palm Grove

But in early May –before we even made it to Mother’s Day, my dad ended up in the hospital. A really tough bout with pneumonia left him so weak he had trouble swallowing his food without choking or aspirating. There are so many muscles involved in the swallowing process and you need to be physically strong for everything to work as it should.

Six months of speech therapy to strengthen those tricky muscles and rebuild the swallowing reflex coupled with months of sticking close to home and following  a bevy of doctor’s orders…

Rocky Plateau

And I’m delighted to report that dad is stronger and in better overall health than we could have anticipated.

So this was our celebration weekend.

For mom it was a delayed Mother’s Day shopping spree…we jump-started Christmas shopping instead.

And for my dad, I wish I had thought to take a picture of him thoroughly enjoying his restaurant meals.

palm and rocky cliff

Although it has been very hard for me to watch my parents go through such a difficult time, I’ve also found it lovely to watch them stay solid in their commitment to one another, unwavering in their personal faith, and disciplined to follow through with all of the therapies while patiently waiting for answers.

So it was absolutely necessary that we finally make it to Laguna, and instead of just a shopping day, extend to include an entire celebration weekend.

We had such a good time, we may need to make this an annual event.

And this week there are four of us ALL breathing lighter!

…celebration, shoes, baseball, memorials–I’m kind of tired!

We are home!  I’m feeling a bit bedraggled–the aftermath of a roundtrip roadway excursion (all 750 miles or so of it) between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area and the joy-filled destination of marvelous wedding festivities.  I did leave town with the hope that the party shoes would keep up with me.  I’m pleased to report success!  I did NOT topple over, and even managed to keep them on my dancing feet for most of the evening.  Admittedly, that may have been out of a stubborn need to prove something to myself, but I will analyze that privately.

Despite my personal preoccupation with wedding-wear, I was definitely not the centerpiece.  The lovely Amy (who has already seemed a member of the family for years!)  and the handsome Drew (one of my cousin Pam’s sons) were the delightful reason so many of us made the journey.

The wedding was gracefully appointed in its simple elegance, intimately set in the Sunset Gardens (Menlo Park) where Amy works as a talented recipe editor.  The ceremony, lovely dinner and hearty partying provided the perfect landscape for a  joy-filled reunion of brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins and long-time family friends. 

It is life affirming to witness the marriage of a younger couple choosing one another for a hope-filled future together.

Maybe this thought seemed even more insistent due to the poignantly positioned wedding date of 9-10-11. Reminders of the 9-11 tenth anniversary were visible (and unavoidable) in everything from flags draped at half-mast to newspapers in the hotel lobby and even a few billboards.  Not that anyone really needs a reminder.  At a Giants-Dodgers game at AT&T Park (my baseball enthusiasm was buoyed with a breathtaking view of the Bay) the opening ceremony included fire fighters, San Francisco police officers and members of pilot and flight attendant unions.  Nine bagpipers and two percussionists led the procession and a video tribute accompanied a parade of law enforcement representatives ceremoniously carrying in an oversized flag to center field. After a brief moment of silence spectators raised  8 x 10 cards with an American flag on one side and the name of a 9/11 victim on the other.

I looked up our two names:  Lisa Caren Ehrlich and David R. Leistman, both killed in the World Trade Center. More than names, reading about them in the context of  their families and friends– their every-dayness in the WTC initiated a strong response–whew! Tough reading!   And ten years later you cannot google their names alone. Instantly the names and stories associated with 2,975 other victims begs a read resulting in a significantly emotional response.

There’s really not much more to say about the profound juxtaposition of my own loving family reunion poised in jagged contrast to the reminders of distressing loss and emotional toll of 9-11. What I can say; however, is that with gratitude and a nod to how important it is to maintain a personal sense of balance and well-being, I can celebrate today–and daily affirming life is something we all can do. Then when life offers up a happy occasion and a reason to celebrate with friends and loved ones, I call it an absolute necessity that we jump in with both feet—fancy  footwear optional!

Cheers to Amy and Drew!  May you have an abundantly happy life together!

…Debra