North – Days 11 & 12

August 5 & 6

The now boarded up gray building looks back at me like an old friend, “Remember me?” I wistfully recollect the childhood trips to the Bon Air for ice cream and Richie Rich comic books. Perched atop the wooden cross of a hundred year old church, a lone dove catches my eye. This quiet old town seen now through my grown-up eyes is familiar and cozy, reminding me of pure and simple innocence unblemished by the pains of life.

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I think about my own children, the Big Kids as they were affectionately dubbed. I wonder how they will look back upon their own childhood. Not a day passes that we don’t talk about Nora or talk FOR Nora in her “voice.” She is still very much a part of our family and always, always will be.

The first death I experienced was my 92-year-old great Grandma Bohmer’s in 1982 and then the following year my Grandpa (my Mom’s father) passed away. He was 70 and finally free from a long battle with cancer. I was about Greta’s age now and definitely understood the finality of their passing. I dearly missed and mourned each of them, but I’ve never experienced the loss of a sibling as G & G have. I have no point of reference and must rely on them to tell me how they’re feeling and what they’re going through.

What I do know is that they are both incredibly brave. Nora passed on into heaven on their last day of school this past school year. Although Gavin understandably wasn’t quite up for it, Greta still decided she wanted to go to school that day. I am in thankful awe of how her teacher and the rest of the staff took care of her that day, from the moment we fumbled into the office at 10 am, shell-shocked.

I am awestruck by the stoic bravery with which Gavin carried his baby sister’s casket into church and down the aisle with their Dad. Such a grown up thing for a little boy to be asked to do – yet he accepted the assignment with honor.

I see the softness and the compassion in G&G’s eyes when we talk about the little girl who forever changed our lives. Sometimes we cry, sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we just KNOW – without there being any words at all. A heartfelt teary smile and a nod, “I know.” Ultimately I believe that this experience will mold and shape them into exceptionally compassionate adults.

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
– Kahlil Gibran

(Thanks so much for that awesome quote, Heather L!)

On our drive back to the house William and I decide to turn down the rustic gravel driveway. Cabin #3, Nora’s cabin, just as we left it. It certainly isn’t the most extravagant place in the world, but it is one of the most special. We lived life with her there. We LOVED her there.

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A lump in my throat – I recall the last time we drove away from there. I miss her.

My visits with anguished grief are never for lengthy periods of time these days. I became well versed in the hell of grief after we got the diagnosis. It was then that I cried and cried and cried until there were no tears left in my tired, heavy body. “Don’t expect long with her,” the statistics warned, “… high mortality rate before or shortly after birth…” A strange surreal grief that I physically carried around with me–that there was no escape from. The next 2 years that unfolded were such an unexpected gift in so so many ways. We never could have imagined how much love and joy this baby girl would bring into our lives. It went against everything we had been told to expect. Even in the moments of uncertainty and fear, we did the best we could to cherish and appreciate each of the 777 days we were given with her. (Yes, you read that correctly. Nora was with us for 777 days!) We were given something that, statistically speaking, we should not have been. I have a hard time stomping my feet and getting angry with God at this point — after He graciously and miraculously answered every single prayer that was put before Him, AND THEN SOME. Knowing God like I do, I am confident that He was still very much in the business of answering prayers this past June 3rd as well. Nora is fully healed, completely restored, just as we asked. When I have been given SO much, how dare I kick and scream for more? In my human state I still cry, but I do it with an ever grateful heart. Thank You for her!

There are still so many reasons to laugh, to smile. These are the many reasons for both ~

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Uncle Dustin and the boys are worn out!!!

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Kohen peeks over at us, giving us the look… “Do you NOT see us trying to sleep?!?! Shhhhh!!!!!”

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Or perhaps Kohen is trying to get a glimpse of his Dad out on the water? Joe and Dan commence in a double ski session. Minus the life jackets and real background, it was something straight out of an old Elvis Presley movie.

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As if their antics weren’t amusing enough, Dan is wearing swim goggles and Joe is wearing a vintage circular diving mask (while skiing).

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Back inside it is cocktail hour (not including a little boy) while dinner is underway.

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With all the fabulous cooks in the family (myself not included) we ate like kings and queens every night! Joe and Dustin seemingly purchased and transported the entire meat department from Findlay Market up with us. Dan and Sarah brought up their fancy smoker and all was right with the world from a dining perspective!

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That is reason enough to dance with your Mom!

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The deer are everywhere. We see a set of adorable twin fawns along our evening walk.

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Sadly it is Em & Josh’s last day. They roll out early to head back to the Land o’ Cleve. We are already sad without them and attempt to cheer ourselves up with a trip to Mackinac Island.

On our way to the ferries we saw THIS!!!! It’s Big Moose. “Ooooo! Looooook theeeerez yer moooose!”

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William REFUSED to stop and ask for directions, so it took us a little while to get there, but we finally did. 😉

{It’s actually me who WILL. NOT. ask for directions!!!}

The late morning air is still chilly, so we opt for the indoor ferry seating.

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Perhaps ONE DAY we will be able to get a family portrait taken without worrying what Gavin’s face is contorted into. But for now – this is the standard.

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Fifty-five foot original Chris Craft docked in the Mackinac Marina named the Marion Leigh. Beautiful boat!

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When you and I go cruisin’
You’ll thank me for choosin’
You to come and have some fun
On a bicycle built for two

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It is a smooth 8 miles around the island in flawless weather. A warm summer breeze partners with the sails of a catamaran in the great blue yonder.

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Next on the agenda is a carriage ride. Our 19-year-old tour guide / carriage driver is a native of the island with Ojibwa heritage. His family has been here since the early settlers. I am fascinated.

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Kellkell keeps the Big Kids in check in the back seat.

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The historic Grand Hotel never ceases to impress. The clip clop of horse hooves and the rattling of the carriage chains are whispers from another era. The ceiling of the 660-foot-long porch is painted blue to deter the barn swallows from building nests. This color reminds them that they are indeed BARN swallows and not PORCH swallows. Actually, it is said that they confuse the color with the open sky. Some of the mansions on the island have followed suit with the blue porch ceilings. One place even went so far as to have clouds painted.

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The Grand Hotel keeps their fancy carriages here.

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We wander inside to marvel at antique carriages on display and the tidy order of the establishment.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(‭Matthew‬ ‭11‬:‭28-30‬ NIV)

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Life is sweet.

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There are three geese in the harbor as we wait in line for the next ferry back to the mainland.

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it has been a delightful day.

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Loving the background photo bomb!

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“Say cheese!” (and smash your daughter in the corner) (Poor girl!!!) (Sorry, Greta!)

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It is night time. We’re all tired as fudge! Goodnight!

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5 thoughts on “North – Days 11 & 12

  1. Aleisa, are you aware that the number seven has great meaning and significance in the Bible? It signifies perfection or completeness. You can google “significance of number seven in the Bible” and read about it. I don’t think it was an accident that God called Nora home on her 777 day. I believe she had completed and perfected the work God had given her to do here on this earth. Everything God does has meaning and significance. Every day of her life was planned and ordained by the God who created her and gave her life a special purpose. And you were so blessed to be the giver and caretaker of that precious little life. I have prayed for you many, many time.

  2. I love 777! Whenever something costs 7.77 and I give them a 10.00, my change is 2.23, which is my birthday. It always makes me smile. And now, for a whole new reason.

  3. Yes, my husband just said that multiples of seven were always considered a blessing in the Bible. That is truly wonderful!! I know how much you miss her. I miss her sweet smiling face and baff pictures so much. What a gift precious Nora was and is to your family forever. And to so many others that got to experience her sweetness through this beautiful blog. I am so grateful you made a choice to do this. I am praying always and continually for you all. xoxo

  4. I am always looking here to see if today you will add a new entry! You’re a wonderful writer! Thank you for continuing to share you and your family’s lives with me. Prayers are continually being said for y’all xoxo

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