Budget travel, Childhood cancer, Europe, Family Travel, Personal, Travel

Tapping On The Heart

I don’t remember how the feeling came exactly. It wasn’t a lightening bolt like you hear about. It was sort of like a light tapping, the kind that you don’t feel at first because you are so busy with the chaos of raising a family, the kind that gets pushed away. This feeling got stronger, like the way you don’t register something annoying your kids are doing and then suddenly it enters your consciousness and you realize you’re actually pretty annoyed after all. This tapping… “You need to do something big with your family. You never know when your life will change. It can change in an instant. Don’t put off your dreams any longer.” It always made me spiral into anxiety a bit, this feeling. “What?”, I thought, “What is going to happen?!”. I worried maybe one of my parents would get sick, or something bad like a car accident would happen. It terrified me. I would push it away again and go about my life…..

The tapping grew stronger, though. Tap, tap, tap, until it forced me to examine why I felt unhappy. What was I missing? My life was FINE! Though, I was admittedly bored to death with my suburban American life, it was fine and I felt happy in many ways. Eventually it did hit me, it was fine, but every time I saw a friend post about a vacation or anytime I saw something on the internet about exotic places, especially Europe where I’d spent a lot of time before, I got a pit in my stomach. I was really lucky to have traveled a lot before kids. And it made me feel so ALIVE. I never feel more “myself” than when I’m traveling.

But, I just felt we couldn’t afford it, and so the pity party would take over and I’d move along. Then eventually the tapping began to hurt. “Travel! Do something big with your family! You never know what will happen. There are no guarantees.” So, I listened. I got really serious about finding a way to do something big. I decided I wanted to take the whole family to Europe for as long as we could make our money stretch. I talk about saving for our trip here. It took us 9 months to save. It was a lot of sacrifice. And it was worth it 100%. It was beautiful. We spent a month walking cobblestone streets in Switzerland, playing on the rocky beaches in southern France, navigating the bridges of Venice, being mesmerized as the Eiffel Tower sparkled at sunset, dancing by a water fountain in Austria, walking through the villages of Cinque Terre as we ate our 3rd gelato of the day. It was magic.

Then 4 months later, it happened. My baby, my perfect two year old little boy was diagnosed with a brain tumor. This couldn’t be happening. Never in a million years did I imagine this could be happening to our family. Now the tapping made sense. Now I understood. And THIS is why I am so passionate about family travel. It’s not about bragging, or country lists, or pretty pictures (though sometimes it definitely seems that way in the travel blogging arena these days) …. If that is all my account is about, I want to delete it right now, because it was born out of a desire to help others to create beautiful, powerful, transcendent MEMORIES. Memories are all that last. Memories are the only thing that nobody can take away from us. There have been many fearful, dark days where I close my eyes and remember our beautiful month as a family. Our month without the noise of everday life. And it gets me through. It helps me to hope for future dreams we might accomplish. I will say it forever. Collect moments, not things.

💋 Melissa

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