Tuesday, May 20, 2014

You Gotta Take the Bitter with the Sweet...

Remember that Carole King song

"A friend of mine once told me
And I know he knows all about feelin' down
He said, "Everything good in life you've got to pay for
But feelin' good is what you're paving the way for"
So, don't let it get you down, my friend
Though it seems the blues will never end
On this you can depend, they always do
And I can tell you that it's true
It's a feeling that can't be beat and you got to do it
You got to take the bitter with the sweet"

Well, I have just spent seven days traveling to one of the most beautiful places in the world!  Seven friends just left Costa Rica.  A good friend of mine, Susan has a home there and invited us to be her guest for seven enchanted days.


The bitter. Day One, May 13.  Our flight was scheduled to depart SAT at 7:50 a.m.  If you think back, that was the day of the very large thunderstorms that hit most of Texas.  Hail, thunder, lightening and floods...oh my!  The morning began with a 3:30 a.m. call from Lou.  Our flight had been delayed to Houston, two of the seven travelers had no power, the cell phones began ringing. 

To make a long story and an even longer day short, the bitter came as each hour of the day past and each flight to Houston was canceled. Finally our Costa Rica flight was canceled, big bummer.  We were all rescheduled to fly out on the Wednesday early morning flight, sigh.  Small problem, two of the seven were already in Costa Rica, but Susan our CEO was not among the two.

Day One Happy Hour in San Antonio
While the rest of us went home, Claudia and Robbie were wined and pampered by Susan's amazing sister-in-law and niece in San Jose.  We were all concerned about how they would do by themselves, silly us.  We met up with them at the sister's home, where they had spent their time in a home straight out of Architectural Digest.  We shared an incredible lunch in this gorgeous home and the bitterness quickly dissolved into the sweet tropical paradise of the country.

We then drove several hours, stopping to buy delicious fresh fruit, see humongous crocodiles, and drive through the mountains of Costa Rica to the beach.   We had all forgotten about the travails of the previous day and life was "Pura Vida"!

We were met at Susan's slice of Heaven by Donal. He took care of our every need from that point forward...oh Donal, if only I could have packed you away in my suitcase...

Susan's  home is indescribable.  From the view, to the pool, the veranda, to the beautifully appointed home...we were all aghast.  It was breathtaking, we needed to go no further.  Cocktails were served poolside, while we listened to music that floated around us as we sank into outdoor sofas and lounge chairs and watched the sunset into the ocean.

Susan planned the perfect amount of leisure time and activities.  Our meals, delicioso, I know I gained more pounds than I wish to think about..."Pura Vida!"  We traveled to Manuel Antonio one day, where we hiked through a rain forest to the beach.  The water crystal clear and as warm as bath water.  We watched monkeys steal food from picnickers, saw exotic animals and came home tired and happy.  

We zipped lined hundreds of feet above the ground, through the canopy off the rainforest (one of the bravest zipped upside down, when allowed, want to guess who that courageously crazy soul was!?!)

We took a crocodile tour through the estuaries of the area.  Incredible wildlife, entertaining guides  fed these giant ugly creatures chicken with their fingertips, rode on one of the crock's back and allowed us the opportunity to rub our hands along his rugged skin.  A great adventure!

The sweetest moments for me were our times together.  I was fortunate enough to share this time not only with my San Antonio friends, but also with my precious Midland friend, Debbie.  Recall in an earlier blog entry that I had introduced Susan's daughter to Debbie's son. Now co-madres, Debbie was part of the Magnificent Seven.  

There is almost nothing finer than the friendships of women, and I am so grateful that I am surrounded by amazing friends.  Our conversations, poignant, hysterical, and binding.  That bind that can only occur when you take a respite from life and soak in the stillness of the moment.

 Other than Debbie jumping in the pool with her iPhone wedged securely in her swimsuit, Susan's slight car encounter with a stone wall and all of us waking up on our next to last day to a rather substantial house flood, the sweetness far outweighed the bitter.

Flood?  Yep, Cindy woke up at 4:00 a.m. To the sound of rushing water.  Opening her bedroom door, her feet were suddenly drenched in about 6 inches of water.  She walked a few more steps to see water cascading over a bridge type balcony of this beautiful home.  The water was soaking the brand new furniture, rugs and wooden tables as fast as it could.

It seemed a little plumbing problem had occurred during the night.  A required flush, then back to bed had caused the tsunami that brought each of us from the land of nod to up and like lighting, moving all of the furniture outside and then sweeping up the deluge of water with brooms, mops and towels.

By 5:30 a.m. all the damage had been cleared.  Nothing like seven Women of Power and one Donal to solve any dilemma one might encounter.   This was one of those incidences that after all is said and done, ends up being one more tie that binds us all even closer.  By 6:00 a.m. We were poolside, watching the sunrise and ready for another day in paradise.

I'm flying home as I write this, and I realize like most things in life, "You Gotta Take the Bitter with the Sweet" for if there weren't the bitter you would never be able to really savor the sweet.

Steve and I took this trip about 10 years ago with Susan and Hugo and two other couple friends.  There were so many times these past few days when I thought of that trip.  I remembered how romantic this paradise was, how we laughed and spoke often of the fun we had all had, that was  so many years ago...a lifetime ago.

On a grander scale, I realized that even after Steve had been diagnosed with brain cancer, even after we knew how limited his life would be, Steve, our family and I were able to savor that overwhelming bitterness with some of the sweetest moments of our marriage.  I think it took that bitterness, that we knew would eventually take Steve away from us, that allowed us to say everything we ever wanted to say to him.  To laugh and love watching and seeing Steve laugh and enjoy life, up until the very end.  "Pura Vida"!

While that bitter sadness continues to wash over me at times, I always find myself going back to memories of those delicious moments that made life with Steve so sweet.  That bitter sweetness made a tie that will bind us together forever.

I'll take the bitter, as I will never forget the sweet.


For what it's worth,

Colossians 3:14 "Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 "A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."