This week, I’m in Florida at the house of the lovely Diana’s parents and the picture you see is the view from there deck as the sun rises. I love this place. Not just the house, but everything around it. Since we’re getting close to the only tropical zone in the continental U.S., coming down here is like entering another world. Plants you don’t see in North Carolina abound, you’ll see animals here that don’t exist in the rest of the country (or if they do, not in large numbers). Case in point, there’s supposed to a manatee in the creek in front of the house. I’ve never seen him, but I don’t doubt he’s there. This stark difference between here and home makes in easier to forget all the crap I have to deal with on a normal day and just immerse myself in a much-needed vacation.

I say “much-needed” because I’ve just finished a 6 month ordeal. Earlier this year, I found out the colon cancer I was diagnosed with 5 years ago was back. The course of treatment was surgery, followed up by 6 months of chemotherapy. I was not looking forward to it, to say the least. You can see what I mean here. This time, however, things went much better than the first time. Better drugs and me being in better shape to start out made all the difference. The best part of the whole deal is that I’m done. I’m finished with chemotherapy. No more days spent sitting around, letting them pump just enough poison into my body to kill the cancer cells, but not kill me. No more days of feeling like I got hit by a truck. No more days of not being able to eat certain foods because they set my mouth on fire. It’s done, finished. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how glad I am about that.

This vacation is as much a celebration as it is an escape. We do this once a year and this year is different for another reason: we brought my mother. We fully intended to bring my father, too. But as his ashes are scattered across the garden he worked so hard to help mom build, that wasn’t really possible. He’s with us anyway, just as he is everyday. I like to think he’s enjoying it as much a we are.