I spotted the same dock where Mike and I had spent quite a bit of time on our honeymoon. The Jamaican waters shone so clear you could watch colorful fish for yards in all directions. The weather felt perfect, and the winds danced playfully across the water's surface every time it flitted past. I could hardly wait to reach the end of the pier, but when I finally drew closer, instead of seeing Mike, a little girl sat there, kicking her feet in the water.
I thought about turning back, but she motioned me forward and pointed to a raft bobbing expectantly with a Viking sail that fluttered, opening and closing. "Come on, silly" she hollered. "I've been wanting to show you something."
So, I edged forward. And even though just a dream, I kept thinking how it felt all wrong this time. It's true that I usually picture this place when I’m getting procedures, radiation, cancer treatments, or scans. After all, this location holds one of my most beautiful memories.
On that dock, God gave me a sign.
A year before I first saw that place during my honeymoon, Mike and I actually broke up. At the time, I worked as a single mom with four kids. Mike didn't have any children of his own, and I didn’t think it seemed fair to marry him and rob him of his right to have a biological child. So, after quite a while of dating, I broke up with him as cleanly as possible, and told him he needed to find someone to have kids with.
We both cried. The thought of not being with him romantically, or otherwise, seemed almost unfathomable. But I needed to give him that chance, time to really process things and decide if my kids and I were the right choice for him.
I brought a mason jar along with a notebook and pens. I pulled them from my bag, and we both sat on a cement sidewalk near a park and wrote a letter to each other. It was all of the things we hadn’t been able to say during our relationship and wished we would have. We also laid out our hopes and dreams. Then we put the notes in the mason jar, brought them to a place we both loved, and buried the jar. "We'll meet up a year from today, catch up, and dig up the mason jar together?" Mike asked.
"Yes," I said, "and then I can hear all about how amazing your new life is."
"And I can hear all about yours." He nodded.
"A lot can happen in a year," I said, and we went our separate ways.
But as fate would have it, we ended up getting back together, and a few months before our wedding day approached, we went and dug up the mason jar and decided to open it on our honeymoon at the end of a dock in Jamaica.
I’d never expected our letters to be so similar, to relay the exact same things. It felt like a confirmation from God that we'd done the right thing. That's probably why I cried on the dock and hugged Mike after we read our own words to each other. Then I promptly jumped into the water and pulled him in after me. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
Here a pic of the day we dug it back up:
So, that’s why I picture the place frequently because despite pain and hardship and cancer, that memory always makes me realize that I still have the best life ever. Plus, it brings with it a semblance of peace, that God does have a plan. Mike is always there when I picture it though, not this little girl. And hearing her high-pitched voice, instead of his baritone one, really took me off-guard.
"It’s only a little farther," she said. "You can do it." With the pain in my back, the dock seemed much longer than ever before. My gait had slowed to a molasses pace, and I struggled forward until I gingerly lowered my body a few feet away from hers.
"What’s with the raft?" I finally asked.
"I'll tell you in a minute. But isn't there something else more important that you wanted to talk about, something that's been bothering you?"
“Not really,” I said.
She suddenly looked much older and wiser. Her black hair swirled in the wind, and her beautiful brown eyes reflected the ageless crests of the waves.
“Yes, you have questions about sin,” she said, and I wondered who I was really talking to. "Elisa, isn’t that why you think you got sick? Why do you think you got cancer?”
“Not because of sin, not really.”
“It’s okay to be vulnerable sometimes,” she said. I glanced at the Viking flag still fluttering from the raft next to us. “Do you think this is karma? Even a little piece of you?”
I turned toward her and felt my back spasm in pain. I realized then that I wore a leather pack tightly against my back, and it wasn’t very comfortable.
"Do you think you got sick because you sinned?" she probed, practically interrogating me.
Okay, I'll have to write the rest of this later. I am sooo tired from treatments last week. Please don't think that I'm still worried about getting cancer because of my sins. It'll make a lot more sense in the next post :)
A pic from our honeymoon: