Friday, 3:30 P.M.
The first and only two day camping trip starts off like all great family trips do, with an argument. Something about the way I pack an ice chest vs. the way Joey does. We go through the usual routine: me, hurt by Joey's comment. Joey, (not really sure why, but-) mad at my response. About ten minutes of avoiding each other. Then, quiet "sorries" and we are good to go. Just like clock work.
I feel like poop. My bi-yearly cold/flu sickness has decided to invade my ear, throat, and sinus this weekend. I take as much cold medicine as it says on the bottle to take, but I want to take more, only I am afraid it will kill me or something. I count the hours since I last took some on my fingers, and slam the syrupy liquid down like a shot. The pressure in my head seems to be building by the hour, and my body is weak and weary. I try not to focus on it, try to not say anything about it, because I know how much time and planning Joey has put into this trip. And if the roles were switched, I would be furious if he were sick.
So I pack Kleenex and NyQuil and consider the Vic's Vapor Rub, but decide against it. The smell draws too much attention if worn in public, almost as it you are constantly farting or something. Except with that minty smell of course.
Friday, 5:45 P.M.
Nawnie and Ampa watch Ethan as Joey and I set up the tent. We pick a spot away from everyone, and the second time I make the trip with from our van to the designated spot, I feel like I just walked across a football field. I tell Joey I can't do it anymore; I will make the beds.
The tent goes up relatively easily (I just love whoever invented the whole all-the-poles-that-go-together-are-connected-by-a-string-thing) except for the fact that Joey has tied the dogs to a pole and in a matter of fifteen minutes Fiebe has bitten clear through her rope. That and the fact that dogs attract children who are the sweetest but also the most annoying things in the world, children who ask a bazillion trillion questions and tell you over and over how much they love your dog and want your dog and that your dog really likes them. I'm not dissing, I'm just saying. Heck, I was one of those children. Still, as I stood there trying to put the right pole in the right pocket and trying to not lose both of my precious pups as well as trying to be nice and answer at least one out of every five of the questions coming from the peanut gallery about the dogs, all I could think was, Oh Lord, have mercy.
Friday, 11:30 P.M.
No games, but pleasant conversation around the campfire. It's hot. My head feels ready to explode, and my nose is pink and raw and dry from blowing it six hundred times since we got here. I've been waiting for games, or at least something fun that would remind me why I love camping so much, but nothing happens. We go to bed, dirty.
I can't breath out my nose so I can't fall asleep. It's quiet and still. Then there is a buzzing sound near my left ear.
Saturday, 12:03 A.M.
There it is again. This time, I hear the darn bug smack into the side of the tent. I want to scream.
Saturday, 12:15 A.M.
Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Smack. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Smack. Smack.
I feel it hit my neck. I grab it like it's a grenade and throw it across the tent as hard as I can, but it's like throwing an un-used Kleenex; there just isn't any force to it. I hope I at least paralyzed it from ever flying again.
Saturday, 12:18 A.M.
Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Smack. Buzzzzzzzzzzzz-"Joey! Joey! Are you awake? There's a bug Joey..."
He roles over and looks at me like he wants to kill me. "Don't you hear that bug?" I ask.
"I need a light. It's by my pillow."
He shines the light and there is no bug. He hits the flashlight off and turns over to go back to sleep. I lay still and listen. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz-"Joey!" We go through the light routine three more times, never finding the darn bug. Joey thinks I'm nuts and is about to tell me so when we both hear it. He shines the flashlight towards the sound and sees the brown beetle. He smashes it with his index finger.
"Did you kill it?"
I close my eyes and Ethan whimpers.
It gets louder and louder. I have to get up. I walk over to his bed and whisper "Shhhhhhhh," and "It's OK," until he quiets down. I only have to do this one more time before he wakes up for the day, at six a.m.
Saturday, 7:30 A.M.
Joey has made a fantastic breakfast with eggs and sausage and bacon and french fries, and I can't taste any of it. I tell him it is fantastic. The coffee from the french press is heaven to me, and I drink at least four cups.
Joey cooks, cleans, takes care of Ethan, and is amazing. I walk around in a DayQuil daze, trying to remember to be helpful but always one step behind.
Saturday, 2:00 P.M.
We go down to the water. It's painfully rocky, quick-sandy muddy and crowded with tatted teenagers and dogs. Ethan wades in to his ankles, and I do the same. I keep just looking around, wondering how I ever thought this was fun. Even if I weren't sick, would I really be having a good time? You can't even sit down without a pointed little rock invading your rear, let alone walk around. The dogs take over the towels, and their tongues hang out.
Saturday, 5:00 P.M.
Ethan is walking around holding his side, and says, "I have a tummy ache."
Saturday, 5:20 P.M.
Saturday, 9:30 P.M.
We play Mexico, and I laugh at my silly friends and feel a little better for the first time. I make a s'more and drink it with a glass of red wine, and the combination is perfect. Joey finishes a cigar on a table away from the group, and I join him. He looks super sexy smoking. I have never been brave enough to try any form of smoking, but would have tonite had I not been sick too. I am afraid I will have a coughing fit and draw everyones attention to the PK's daughter trying her first cigar at the church camp out. It is just too risky.
Sunday, 6:00 A.M.
Ethan is up and happy and ready to "go to the camping". Joey gets up and lets me sleep. Did I mention he is amazing?
Sunday, 9:25 A.M.
I get up. I feel groggy.
Sunday, 10:00 A.M.
Another amazing breakfast.
Sunday, 11:45 A.M.
Church. We can share what the Lord is teaching us. How we are growing in our faith in Christ. I share this:
This morning Joey told the kids the dogs need a break, to leave them alone for awhile. Two of the little girls stopped touching them, but continued to bring them sticks to play with. A very loving Grandma took the girls to time outs and then made them individually come over to Joey and I and apologize to us for continuing to play with the dogs when he had told them not to.
I could see in their downcast eyes and pouty lips how hard it was for each of them to do this, to face up to their sin, to look a person in the eye and say, "I sinned against you, and I am sorry." It would be much easier and less shameful to take a time out. My heart went out to the girls and I just wanted to hold them and tell them it was OK, that we loved them. And it hit me that I am that girl, still, not wanting to go to God and look Him in the face and say, "I'm sorry. I sinned against You." It's much easier to put myself in time-out, feel a little guilty for awhile, and then move on. To leave God out of it completely.
But by doing this I miss everything. I miss God and the relationship He wants with me. I miss His love and forgiveness, the depth of His fatherly care and protection over me. I miss the gospel, and the depth of human emotion only it can bring out. The sweet sorrow of repentance, the overflowing joy of salvation.
OK, so not in so many words, and I blubber and cry through the couple of coherent sentences I do manage to sob out, but that is what I wanted to share. That is what is in my heart, so real it burns.
Sunday, 4:15 P.M.
I pack my things, and Joey drives me home. We get stuck in traffic for forty minutes. I tell myself to take advantage of the time sitting by him, and eat a handful of the saltiest sunflower seeds I've ever tasted. They put a whole in my tongue. I have nothing to wash the dryness out of my mouth.
Sunday, 6:00 P.M.
My house looks exceptionally clean.
Sunday, 6:20 P.M. Joey leaves to go back up with Ethan while I am still in the shower, trying to wash my feet for the fifth time to get the black creases out of my toenails.
And just like that he is gone. When I get out of the shower, the silence is deafening in my ears, ringing and echoing, the only thing I hear.