Sometimes You Win. Sometimes You Lose.

“Endurance is patience concentrated.”

∼Scottish essayist, satirist, and historian

Hi friends! Today’s post is a departure from my usual focus on Scotland. Instead, I want to write about my trip to Florida with my sister this past week. So with that said…

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. For me and my dear, long-distance sister S, this past week was a bit of a loss.

S and I started going on “adventures” several years ago. They are not really adventures in the truest sense of the word, they’re really just sister get-a-ways. But that’s what we call them. Our adventures have taken us to the coast of South Carolina, the mountains of Tennessee, to destinations in the Great Appalachian Valley, and this past week, to the Gulf Coast of Florida.

For months we had anticipated our beautiful Emerald Coast vacation. The area is a favorite spot for me and Mr. C and I was so excited to share it with my sister who had never been to Florida. I had arranged our flights, our rental car, and for our stay in a cute townhome that Mr. C and I had rented in the past. Everything was all set. We were excited and anxious for our week of sisterly seaside bliss.

Boy, were we about to be let down!

Because instead of enjoying the soothing sounds of surf and seabirds, we ended up being treated to a solid week of a gutting/renovation project of the townhome next door. (To be fair, the property owner did tell me about the construction. However, the foreman had told her that they were finished with the noisy stuff.) They lied. Every single day from 7:45 am until 5:30 pm…WHACK, BANG, WHIR, SAW, HUM, BUZZ, SLAM!! Because the two homes are attached, there were moments our apartment actually shook from the brute force of the men at work. We couldn’t spend time on our decks or even leave our slider open because the cacophony of the construction was so intrusive. I have never in my life been so stressed on a vacation or so ready to depart early – especially when we’re talking about the beach! We notified our landlord, of course, and she sincerely apologized and offered a discount to help ease the pain. But I’m not sure even a full refund would take away the disappointment of having our quiet beach week “ruined” by that never ending racket. I really wanted to be an adult about it because sometimes you-know-what just happens and there’s not a damn thing you can do but try to make the best of it. And I totally get that it’s insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The world has much bigger problems than our vacation woes. But I was angry at the situation nonetheless. I’m still pretty angry.

My bond with S was born out of a rather catastrophic experience. Eight years ago, while visiting me for the first time (and on her first vacation in years), she suffered a terrible fall that landed her flat on her back between my car and the curb. Within half an hour we were in the E.R. and by 8 am the following morning, she was in surgery for a devastating pilon fracture of her tibia. S spent the next few days in the hospital in a hometown not her own and in a state of grogginess from the hard core pain medication. Even today, she cannot remember key details of the experience that I have related to her.

Disappointment, sadness, stress, and fear were just some of the emotions that we both faced in the days after. First, of course, the utter disappointment of interrupted plans and the sadness of seeing her in such agony. I was stressed about how I would care for her in my wheelchair unequipped home and she by her loss of independence. We feared not knowing how quickly she would heal and how she was going to be able to continue to work to pay her bills and how she would care for her two small children. I wasn’t even sure how Mr. C and I were going to get her home. There were more than a few tears shed during that time.

S ended up staying with us for two full weeks before we were able to return her home to her children. It was a long two weeks and by all accounts it was a terrible time. Except that strangely, it wasn’t. Because two sisters who were really more like friendly, long-distance acquaintances, bonded. It sounds cheesy, but that experience gave us a whole new love and appreciation for each other. We started out as sisters and we ended up as friends.

Life is pretty unpredictable, as I know you know. Sometimes you outright get the lemonade and sometimes you just get the lemons. Twice now together, S and I have been given lemons. When I think back over the last eight years with her, though, from the time of her injury until our goodbye hug yesterday morning, the lemons aren’t really the memories that stand out to me. It’s the laughter. The laugh-til-you-cry, almost wet your pants kind. It’s the way we can be stupid and silly with each other – completely ourselves. It’s the times we have shared a prayer together. It’s the way she teases me for my vacation “low points” and for frequently “pulling a Wendy” (yeah, I do funny stuff sometimes). It’s that time I asked her to stop humming because she was getting on my nerves (she’ll never let me live that one down!). It’s a hundred little moments that when added up, make for one big happy memory.

Hm, perhaps we didn’t lose so much this past week after all.