It was the last day of our time in Orange Beach.  I got up early, around 5:30 and watched the sun come up over the ocean.  I was trying to maintain that vacation feeling as long as possible before I gave in to the returning home phase of our time.

I reminded myself of all the good times we’d had…going out to eat, playing in the surf, sitting on the beach in the shade of an umbrella.  I had bought a hat with the name of our vacation city and slipped it on.  I reminded myself that we would return to the beach…that it was right here waiting for us.

I had started re-packing the night before, taking my time and feeling gratitude for the peace I had received from being at the ocean.

The day before, I had also decided on which things I absolutely wanted to do before we left: get in the water again, sit on the beach some more, collect some shells and take pictures.

We cleaned the condo and performed the tasks outlined in the procedures notebook in our room.  At the same time, we packed.

I felt like crying.  I kept looking out at the ocean and opening the door to the patio so I could hear the ocean.  I gently reminded myself that there would be other vacations and that I had my recording of the ocean to listen to when I wanted. We loaded up the car and began our journey from Orange Beach back to Springfield.

I was nestled in the backseat with luggage all around me.  It was a 12 hour drive so I had lots of time to play on my phone and read.

We arrived home and I couldn’t shake the feeling of sadness at having to leave the beach.  I watched the recording I had made of the ocean and tears filled my eyes.

Before leaving for vacation, I had looked up ways to ease back into your “normal” life after a vacation.  They all suggested having something to look forward to.  I looked forward to going to Table Rock Lake the weekend we got back and spending some time with my brother.

I was also very gentle with myself and really watched my self- talk.  I told my friends that I was feeling pretty rough and they came over to keep me company.

I also made little trinkets out  of the shells I had collected and I will give them to friends.  I still have a gallon ziploc bag of sand that I’m not sure what to do with.

So I had a good plan for ending vacation and re-starting “normal” life.  Meet with friends, watch the self talk, make new vacation plans and make something out of the treasures I’d found.

Even with my plan, I still felt quite sad.

But it’s so worth it.  That week at the beach was awesome.  And I will be back someday soon.

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