Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bear Lake 2011

Ryan's family has been going to Bear Lake every August since he was a baby. It is something our little family has grown to love and cherish--the activities are fun and exciting, and it's relaxing to be away from the pressures of home and work, but we love, love, love being with our family and spending time with them. One of Ryan's wonderful aunts mentioned in a Family Home Evening that we had last year that Bear Lake for her was like a sanctuary--a safe place she could go where she knew she was loved and accepted.

After Mikayla's accident last year, we honestly didn't know if we would ever be able to go back and still enjoy being there. That day was traumatic and horribly difficult, and the days and weeks and months following have been equally hard. There were several family members with us that day, and many of them decided that they wouldn't be going back to Bear Lake. I can understand and appreciate that, and in many ways I felt the same thing. At the same time, I felt drawn to go back. I felt like if we returned we would be able to continue on our journey of healing. Ryan and I discussed it at length with each other and with our older children, and decided that for our family, it would be a good step for us to go back there and continue building good memories.

We made our traditional stop at USU for delicious Aggie ice cream. I believe their ice cream is the best... and Ryan claims that BYU Creamery's ice cream tops it. We are convinced that the only way to determine for sure would be a side by side comparison, but the location of the creameries and the nature of ice cream makes that difficult. My conclusion is that whichever ice cream we are eating at the moment is the best! This day it was Aggie Ice Cream--lemon custard and raspberry sherbet for me, cookies and cream for Coleman, lemon custard for Olivia, and a triple for Ryan--pralines and cream, caramel cashew, and cookie dough. Sophia just kept her mouth open the whole time and waited for someone to fill it with a bite of deliciousness.

As we pulled into Garden City and drove toward the condos where we were staying (and have stayed for the past several years, thanks to the generosity of Ryan's parents and grandparents) we were all flooded with memories of the day that Mikkie left. It was particularly hard to drive by the pool house and get out and hear helicopters flying overhead (they were there this year for Raspberry Days as part of the fair). The last time we were there, we sat on the lawn and watched and prayed as the helicopter came and took Mikkie away. Her sweet older sister Faith said that the helicopter was taking Mikkie to Jesus. The weekend ended up being full of bittersweet moments--hard memories from the day of the accident, but also great memories with Mikayla and all of our other family members.

While we were in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday Ryan's cousin Jen shared her testimony--and while she was speaking I felt strongly that Bear Lake is a sacred place for our family. I don't know if that sounds crazy, but we have spent so much time with our family members there, and it's the last place that we were with Mikayla before she left her earthly existence, and to me it feels sacred.  It was Ryan's grandma Lucille's favorite place... she passed away in 2005, and Bear Lake hasn't quite been the same without her, but when we are there, I can feel of the love that she has for us. I can imagine Lucille and Mikkie, taking an afternoon off from whatever they are doing and sitting together, eating a raspberry shake, and checking in on us, making sure we are being good to each other and having fun.   I felt very blessed to be there again.

The lake has risen EIGHT feet this year! We used to walk at least a mile down to the water's edge from the condos (and we started driving down a few years ago), but this year, the "beach" wasn't far away at all. Unfortunately, a lot of the good sand to play in is buried under the water 100 yards out. The kids still found enough to build a sand castle with and we had fun in the water. Cheri brought the fun jet skis and we all got to take a few rides, even Sophia (where was her mother during this?!?).

We always have fun in the condos--eating yummy food, talking, playing games (this year the new favorite game was "Telestrations"--check it out, you won't be sorry!), eating more food, and just being together. Cousins Brian and Richard played some tunes on their ukeleles and sang to us too. I love watching Ryan's "cool cousins" play with our kids. The aunts told me that when Ryan was a teenager and young adult, he and his siblings were the cool cousins that played with them. In turn, they now entertain our kids--give them endless piggy back rides, take them to the park, and generally make them feel like they are a part of  things. I loved watching them all take such good care of my children.

Sophia was tuckered out after a day in the water and snoozed with Ryan. I love the picture of her with the camera and my flip flops. She's growing up way too fast. We were so glad that Denver and Jan came up! It is always so good to be with them.

When it was all said and done, we were very grateful to have spent a few days at Bear Lake. It will of course never be the same after last year's accident. The heartache that we feel because Mikayla isn't with us will never go away, but I am convinced that because of her, we can choose to be better. We will remember and cherish her always, especially her cute little smile as she dug into Laura's purse one more time for gum and lip gloss, or her giggle as she hopped from person to person in the wagon to get one more bite of a famous raspberry shake from whomever would share with her.

Bear Lake is a part of us, and will continue to be.


Ria said...

I love that you have such great family traditions.

Kristi said...

I think it's neat that you all still made it back to Bear Lake. I'm sure it will never be the same, but it's always great to make happy memories!