It is a warm and muggy summer’s day. We are having a short family holiday at a gorgeous surf beach not far from my family home. I have a small family here in this country. Which suits me just fine.
Today I woke early and hid for a while in my bedroom before coming out to grumpily make coffee and make nice. I love them dearly, but they are exhausting, a combination of me being an introvert and normally having the luxury of as much alone-time as I please.
Terrible jazz music, my father’s choice, is playing loudly in the apartment we are staying in. My sister is cooking dinner early, it smells like onions and herbs. My niece is quietly and happily reading a book. It is a lovely domestic scene.
I am looking out on the surf, the beach calm now after a drama involving a rescue by jet ski, the arrival of the surf life saving helicopter, the beach closure, and an ambulance. Now it is as if nothing ever happened, no hints of that terrible fragility, and I really hope the receiver of all that attention is okay, but there is no way to tell.
Earlier I took a walk around the headland with my sister. It is so stunningly, unbelievably beautiful here, I feel incredibly lucky.
We saw dolphins playing in the surf. I have really only ever seen that once before in my life, also here, on this island. They flew right towards surfers, leaping and playing, and not stopping when they reached those few lucky board riders who had ventured out that far, but getting right in amongst them. Pure joy.
We spied turtles, rare to see them around the coast. First one, then another, and yet another… maybe 5 or 6 in total. We were ridiculously excited.
We headed down to the beach after the walk, sweating lightly. We stripped down to our togs, and leapt into the surf, full of the shock and pleasure of the cold, squealing and laughing like when we were kids.
It’s like everything is normal, though maybe everything is a little brighter today, a little sharper, we smile a little wider, laugh a little louder.
Yesterday our Dad told us that he has bowel cancer. He will have a relatively small operation on 2nd January that has a 50-80% chance of success, odds that give me some comfort, even though I don’t trust them. If that doesn’t work, his only option is a horrifically invasive operation that has an aftermath that will significantly reduce his quality of life. He won’t do it. I don’t blame him one bit.
I really want to say some terribly cliché thing about love and family. But really what I am thinking is that we haven’t had a family holiday for a long long time, and even though I sometimes find it difficult to be around these people who I love, I am lucky to have them, and glad to be here with them.