We had some airline points that were going to expire, so late last year we looked at the map of Southwest Airlines hubs and picked something.
"What about Florida?"
When we made the reservation I didn't know that my mom would have to have two more surgeries--one scheduled and one unexpected--that week before. I knew I'd be in Salt Lake City for a conference, but had no idea how tired and overwhelmed I'd be, or that by that time, the thought of leaving Ender once again and getting on another plane to spend four more nights away from home would sound like more trouble than it was worth.
But on Saturday we flew to Ft. Lauderdale and rented a car, drove to Miami, and spent four nights in the guest room of a penthouse apartment downtown. The sun was shining and it was really warm that first evening, and as soon as I took off my sweater and stepped onto the sidewalk in a backless tank top, I knew I needed this vacation more than I had realized (or maybe even felt like I deserved).
We walked around and ate ceviche and drank too many pisco sours (along with everything else in sight) and on Monday, we got back in the car for three and a half hours to make what ended up being a Hemingway pilgrimage to Key West.
Ernest Hemingway's house was even more beautiful and moving than I dreamed it would be, and back in Miami the next night, over bistec argentino and cafés cubanos I asked Rob, "Do you feel like he's with you now?" because I really felt him down there in Key West and that hasn't left me yet. I don't know if it will.
I put on dark and vampy red lipstick and wore a too-short dress with my highest heels to a party that we didn't even get to until 10:30 on our last night in town, and the city lights at 1AM twinkled across the bridge from South Beach back to our Airbnb downtown.
On Wednesday we woke up, packed our things, and had one more breakfast outside in the sunshine while we marveled at this, the best vacation we've had in a long time--the one that almost didn't even happen.