A little more than three weeks ago, Lori and I took off for a much anticipated vacation to California. The vacation was a spur of the moment decision. My brother practically begged me to come visit a couple of weeks earlier and I wanted it just as much as he did. With a week of unused vacation in the bank and the perfect opportunity, a transition between my old position and a new one, to take it, I came home and asked Lori if there was any way we could afford a trip to San Diego. With the late notice, I held out little hope of finding cheap airfares. But, I went online and there they were, flights to San Diego on Southwest for just over $100! Our good luck continued when my mom informed Lori that she had moved out to a new apartment and still had the old apartment available for us to stay in. In the blink of an eye, we found ourselves a little more than two weeks away from warmth and sunshine... a nice treat after a very cold January.
I could hardly contain my excitement. I looked forward to seeing my mom. I looked forward to seeing my sister Rita. I looked forward to seeing my mom and Rita even though they had just visited Colorado a few short weeks before. I looked forward to seeing my mom's new apartment... heck, I looked forward to seeing my mom's old apartment as well. I even looked forward to just plain seeing my mom in her new life in San Diego! I looked forward to seeing Rita's new apartment. I looked forward to meeting Rita's new friends as she slowly started to blossom in her new surroundings. I looked forward to seeing my nephew, Hunter, who just moved out there to live with my mom. I looked forward to seeing my brother's step-kids, Milla and Matthew. I looked forward to seeing Helena, my brother's girlfriend. I looked forward to seeing all of Helena's family, a great group of people. I looked forward to having lunch with my son's friend, and our friend, Daniel. I looked forward to the beach. I looked forward to hiking and climbing mountains again. I looked forward to feeling the warmth of the sun. I looked forward to visiting one of my favorite cities in the world.
But, let's not kid ourselves. The two biggest reasons that I couldn't wait to get on that plane were Frank and Giselle, my brother and my niece! Since the day I started this blog and with each weight barrier I broke, I have longed to see my brother. The same brother who has anxiously hoped for the last ten plus years that I would change my life. My brother who has encouraged me every time I embarked on all of my previous attempts. My brother who provided inspiration by being the picture of health. My brother who still plays competitive soccer at age 42 and looks almost 10 years younger than he is. My brother who was the sole reason that I started this blog and the only person I needed to read it for it to be worth writing in. My brother who was so desperate for me to be healthy and to live a long and healthy life that he even suggested stomach surgery at one point... oh, how little you knew me. My brother who is my best friend. My brother who I miss every single day. My brother who makes me want to live in San Diego even more than the city does by itself. I couldn't wait for the moment he saw me. I couldn't wait to hug and kiss him. I couldn't wait for the reaction. Because, despite seeing photos, I knew seeing it in person would be a different thing. I wanted so badly for my brother to be proud of me.
My kids both thought that Frank would cry when he saw me. I originally thought the same. But, I also thought I would do the same when I broke 200 and that didn't happen. So, I had my doubts. He didn't cry. He started laughing an excited laugh that was half excitement and half hysteria. He said he couldn't believe it was me as he pulled up. He repeated "Oh my god!" several times, a common reaction these days. He hugged and kissed me. Repeated OMG again, then hugged and kissed me again. Mumbled something again, as he is prone to do, and then repeated the Os and Xs one more time, laughing hysterically the entire time. Not sure where these words came from, but all I could manage was, "Sorry it took so long". It was a moment I had anticipated for almost a year and it was worth the wait.
The second biggest reason for the trip was my niece, Giselle. I saw Giselle at her christening almost two years ago. After appearing that my brother may never have children as he closed in on 40, Giselle was a great and welcome surprise. I wish I could see my goddaughter more often. I wish I could be a part of her life. I wish it hadn't been two years. She is adorable and a complete joy with an incredible spirit. She is funny, smart, talkative, and cute as can be. I enjoyed every moment with her and had an incredible afternoon at Ocean Beach running through the sand and water with her and feeding flocks of maniacal seagulls.
I got to see everything I mentioned above. I got to spend time with loved ones. I got to climb mountains. I got to lay out on the beach in the sun. I got to spend an incredible week with my beautiful wife. In the end, despite how I may have sounded over the last two weeks when talking about my weight, I had an absolutley perfect week and hated to come back home. I wanted to thank Lori for making this possible. Lori started working at WalMart over the Christmas holidays. She didn't take the job so that we could build a San Diego vacation fund. In fact, we weren't planning a San Diego vacation any time in the near future. But, that job and the extra money is the only reason that this trip was possible. I needed this trip. I needed to see my brother's reaction and I needed to see him be proud of me. This trip meant the world to me and I can't thank my wife enough.
As I left, my brother pulled me aside and said, "It was worth the wait" and he said he was proud of me. In case I haven't said it enough, I am proud of you bro. Proud of the father you have become... I knew you had it in you. Proud of the man you are. I love you with all of my heart and miss you always. Here's to memories that will never fade...