This past week I had the amazing experience to go on vacation with my husband and in-laws. We decided to take a road trip up to South Carolina to visit my father in-laws foster family for the 4th of July. My father in-law along with his two older sisters came over from Cuba when they were young and were fostered by this family, and even though they were only with them for a short amount of time they have stayed in touch over the years.
This extended family of ours is warm, welcoming, hospitable, open, and all in all just good people. We have gone to stay with them before but it has been almost 5 years since we were up there last.
If you are still reading you might be saying to yourself, so why are you writing this Emily? The truth is the trip was so restorative and put a few things into perspective for me.
#1. I love being on the water (not the ocean, but a lake, count me in!)
#2. Just because someone is religious does not mean they hate people who are not like them.
#3. Stories are so powerful and if we do not share our stories they will be lost forever.
So, let me go through these in a bit more detail.
#1. My father in-laws foster family lives on Lake Murray in South Carolina. I spent at least half my trip in the water just floating around, and it was magical. Not only was I able to go swimming but they also have a boat. I remember loving boats, I used to go on them to go fishing with my grandpa, and in high school one of my boyfriends had a boat that we would frequently go on together. I have not been on a boat in 10+ years and man did I miss it, and man is that feeling magical. I think my favorite thing about being on a boat is the feeling that states with you afterwards. Ya’ll know what I am talking about? The feeling that even when you are solid ground you still feel like you are on the water. For some reason that feeling gives me so much gratitude for the world.
#2. By now everyone knows that I have a ton of religious trauma and often immediately judge someone when they tell me they love the lord. I honestly can say I don’t know what I believe, but just because someone knows without a shadow of a doubt does not make them a hateful person. My father in-laws foster family is quite religious. They go to church every Sunday, they pray before dinner, they have books about Jesus around the house, and they even befriended some sisters from a convent near by. Those sisters came over for the 4th of July celebration and they were not at all what I expected. While one of the sisters had to leave after lunch the other stayed with us all night. We ended up going on a raft together and being pulled behind a boat….and if I ever write an autobiography it's going to be called The Jew, The Baby, and The Nun. Does that intrigue you? Anyway, we got to experience this migration of birds called Purple Martins to an Island near by. We packed on the boat and went out to see this phenomenon. The birds migrate to this island from Brazil and then leave sometime in August. Apparently they have been doing that for 17 years. The island that they inhabit is called Bomb Island and in World War II it was used for bomb practice. The sister, who is also with us, says “Isn’t it amazing? Where man places war. God creates peace.” I will honestly never forget that and it has been ringing in my head since that night.
#3. The first night we got to South Carolina we were all sitting around the table and my tias (aunts in Spanish for those of you who don’t know) were reminiscing about their time they spent with their foster family, and their time in the camps before that. I never having experienced being an immigrant in another country sat there in awe. I learned so much about their experiences, and I always love hearing stories of love. Because there is so much love there between these people. Though they are not blood related they are still family, and I love that idea. I love that I got to be apart of it. I love that I get to continue sharing their stories. I love that one day I will get to tell my child about how they are second generation Cuban Americans and how proud they should be of that. My father in-law and his sisters fought to be here.
So, I guess this post is all over the place, but the point I am trying to make is this….experience everything you can. Ask questions, get uncomfortable, challenge yourself, and remember to always come back to love because we all deserve it.
Love always your Cycle Half,