I have tried so many times to write this post... only to delete it all when I am done typing. The picture I chose here, out of the hundreds I took, sums up a good part. The resort we stayed at was beautiful. The weather couldn't have been more perfect... gorgeous sunsets every single night. We did amazing fun, cool things every day. It was truly the trip of a life time, the adventure of a lifetime for all 9 of us. It couldn't have been better timing either, with Pipo having a tough winter, and finally reaching an age where he really 'gets' it, he knows this kidney stuff is going to be a lifelong battle. With Kaleigh heading off to school in the fall too, this was a window of opportunity for all 9 of us to have a true family vacation.
We are incredibly thankful for everything Make a Wish did in setting this trip up. Every little detail was accounted for. We had to think about absolutely nothing for the week... it was pure heaven. From the limo service that picked us up, to the reps at American airlines who treated us like royalty, to the luxurious resort that was beyond our wildest imagination. I don't think any of us could have imagined a better trip.
If that was all of it, it would be an easy post to write. I could detail the incredible meals we had, the white sand beach and the beautiful pool just steps from our cottage door. I could talk about how truly relaxed we were for the first time I can remember. But it was so much more than that... so much more than we ever expected.
For this I need to go back 12 years, to when we first moved to this little town. I remember telling Fitz from our very first days here how much I loved it. How for the first time in my life I felt like I was in a place I truly belonged. The longer we live here, the more I love it. Everyone seems to know eachother, and if you don't know someone, you know someone who does. And whether you know them or not, you would drop everything to help them if needed. It's the most amazing sense of community I have ever experienced. And now I have found it again.
As 'Kathleen', who sent us on our snorkeling trip, put it, "Key West might seem like a big town, but if you get rid of the tourists, it's really a small town. Everyone knows each other, everyone takes care of each other." And take care of us they did. Make a Wish had done an incredible job of setting up a trip of a lifetime for Pipo, but once the locals of Key West heard his story, the trip became magical. After hearing that he hadn't really caught much fish our first trip out, people got together and offered two more chartered trips. On one of those trips Pipo caught a 4 foot barracuda and ended up on the front page of the local paper.
This was the biggest magic of the trip, but all of the little things were equally amazing. It was the guys on the boats, yelling good morning to our kids by name as they ran down the docks in the morning. It was the shopkeepers, smiling and sharing their life stories with us, giving the kids little gifts like pirate coins. It was the waitresses at our favorite diner, hugging all the kids goodbye on our last day. It was the owner of our favorite "conch shack" surprising the kids with deep fried oreos one afternoon after lunch. By the end of the week, we felt a part of the place. We had truly been embraced and accepted into this small town. We can't wait to go back someday.