We've now been down about a week, and it's been really nice to be back on the island. The Colombos held a New Year's Eve party and we got to see almost all of our friends in one place, and at one time. It felt like a coming home party as much as anything else. We all got together again on the 1st to help clean up, and eat all the leftovers from the party. It was a great reminder of all the reasons we love living down here so much.
Although it's been good being back there have been some tough moments for Julie and me. There are memories of Johnny everywhere down here. I see him at the beach, or riding his bike or skateboard all over the neighborhood. The kids have been having a great time with all their friends, but whenever I see the group running around I always expect to see Johnny right in the middle of everything. It just makes it so much more apparent that he's missing. While we were in Houston I felt like I had come to terms with the fact that Johnny was gone. Most of my memories were of him sick and in the Hospital. But down here it just doesn't seem real. Here I see him healthy, full of life. He was so much a part of everything that it just feels like he is right there, just out of reach and out of sight.
I recently went surfing in Galveston. It was my first time in the water here since Ike, and only my second time surfing since Johnny relapsed back in May. The whole time I was in the water all I could think about was the last time I took the boys out surfing together. It was late April or early May, and one of those really clean offshore days we rarely get here. Everyone was having a good time, but it was definitely Johnny's best day of surfing. He was catching a lot of waves, and although they were overhead on him, and really peeling off quickly, he was making everything. He would drop in and disappear for a few seconds, and then I'd see a fan of spray followed by a kickout near the jetty. Then Johnny would paddle back out as fast as he could with a huge smile on his face. As soon as he locked eyes with me he would start screaming "Did you see that?!?" Much like his skating about that time it was apparent that he had suddenly figured something out. Worked out that one turn or something that all of a sudden clicked and made everything easy and a lot more fun. At the time I thought that was just the beginning of something, not that I was witnessing the end. It doesn't seem right. It isn't fair.
I have a feeling that those types of memories are waiting for me all over the place down here. I welcome them, but they do hurt because they remind me that he's gone.