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Thursday Update: 09/10/09

So we had a Minnesota vacation. It has been four years…almost to the day that all of us Karwoski’s drove up to the lake for vacation. The thought crossed my mind that it was very near to the anniversary of Matt’s hemorrhage. That the last time I looked out over that water it was with Matt standing happily by my side. I wondered if the rush of memories would overwhelm me and stifle my usual giddy vacation mind-set. But, we went, we spent the long Labor Day weekend up there, and not once did I feel the pangs of sadness or loss that I thought I might. Matt said he definitely missed certain things; going over to the lodge for ice cream, fishing alone with his Dad, driving the boat, going down to the harbor at night. But none of these things affected his mood during the trip. I think they were more just small sighs...just a few more reminders that things are different…but acceptance quickly follows.
We were talking about it just now after supper…about how this year as we approach September 14th, it almost feels like a non-event. Just another day. I guess I will always stop and remember, to a certain extent, but it feels like a waste of my now to be so sad about what once was. There is just too much life left to be lived…too many good things to look forward to, to stand still, stuck in the mud of our past. I know we will always miss the way things used to be. There will always be sighs of frustration and acceptance as we maneuver our way through our life together…but I guess I feel at peace with the way things are. I love Matt. Then. Now. Always. It just doesn’t get any simpler than that. I accept him as he is, just as he accepts me and all my faults. I treasure all the wonderful memories we have made together through the years and I know that there are many, many yet to be made. And so…more about the trip!
Matt and I had planned to split the drive up and spend one night in the Twin Cities. This being the first time I had to drive the entire trip, I welcomed the stop. So last Thursday afternoon we headed out and made out way up to the cities. We enjoyed our night in the hotel, watching college football and preparing for the rest of the trip. Friday morning we took our time heading up to the lake. We took a slightly longer route so we could go past Mille Lacs Lake…which is just a HUGE lake in Minnesota. As a child we always drove up to Jesse Lake past Mille Lacs and as we’d see the lake through the trees we’d get all excited knowing we were close and really starting to FEEL like we were in Minnesota. Pulling over at Garrison to take pictures by the big Walleye is another tradition, and so of course, we had to do that as well! I didn’t remember there being so many sea gulls…which really means sea gull pooh! It was, quite literally, all over the place! As we made our way up to Leech Lake, we’d stop here and there, listen to our favorite cds, and talk, talk, talk. It was a really good road trip. Something we hadn’t done for a long time and we both enjoyed it!
We finally pulled in to the resort in the early afternoon, in time to unload and spend some time down by the beach. The weather the entire time we were there could not have been better. Sunny and 70’s. Just plain perfect. The rest of the family arrived later in the evening…beleaguered from their long journey. Their road trip wasn’t quite as carefree as ours; a blown fuse on the brake lights, a blown head gasket on the motor of the car (resulting in a rental car and no boat), followed closely by a small collision with the rental car. Needless to say, they were near the edge of hysteria by the time they joined us in town for our traditional first-night-on-vacation pizza dinner. The absolute ridiculousness of their situation had us all puzzled most of the weekend. We all agreed the Karwoski curse lives! We are almost as unlucky as Clark W. Griswold! Thankfully we were able to rent a boat up at the resort and were still able to enjoy fishing and relaxing at the lake.
Saturday the boys hung out in the cabin watching the IA/UNI game while us girls went in to town for our usual shopping and lunch trip. We had a great time meandering around the little shops while Matt and George relaxed with their licorice and football!
Sunday we had our first fishing adventure/misadventure (i.e. Emily’s contribution to the Karwoski curse). Lissa, George, Matt, and I headed CLEAR (and I do mean CLEAR) across the lake to a fishing hot spot. One that we’d had a lot of luck with the past few times we’d been fishing up there. Unfortunately in the resort boat it took us FOREVER to get there…with the spray from the waves leaving a nice layer of dampness on each of us. Ahh…Minnesota! I just soaked it all in with a goofy grin on my face the whole time, I’m sure. Finally we landed in our lucky spot and after a while of trolling along I got a bite!
I managed to catch a 4.25 lb northern! Easily the biggest fish I’ve ever caught! I was ecstatic! Thrilled! Elated! Practically jumping up and down with excitement! I’m sure I let out a big ‘Whoooo-Hooo!’ at some point! We all searched the boat for a net…no net…left it with George’s boat back where the car broke down. But as I pointed the pole towards George, he was able to bring him in without one. Phew. Then we scrambled around trying to find a stringer. Surely we have a stringer, right? Someone has to have one in their tackle box, right? We finally found one in George’s tackle box…though he said something about it not being the ‘right’ kind…but it’d do. No matter…I was way too excited about the catch to care about the kind of stringer we used! He was hooked…no problem! Lissa happily snapped pictures of me and my big catch and then we put him in the water and hooked the stringer to the boat. And then…the unthinkable.
I watched him float slowly away from the boat. Stunned, shocked, confused…all I could muster was ‘George! George!’ My fish had somehow come off the stringer…this could be perhaps what George meant by not the ‘right’ kind of stringer…as in this is the kind that the fish could get out of!?! For a few moments the fish lay there on top of the water, himself stunned and resigned to the fact that he was on a stringer… Lissa and I rolled up our sleeves, as though either one of us would actually try to reach into the murky lake water and grab a 4 lb live fish with our bare hands…George tried to swing the boat around towards him…then suddenly he realized he was free…and off he swam.
I slumped back down in my seat, in disbelief and disappointment when I looked down and noticed WE HAD A FREAKING LIVE WELL IN THE BOAT!!!!!!!! Ahh well…Lissa thanked me for my contribution to the Karwoski curse and we continued fishing for the next ‘big one’. Lissa managed to catch a nice northern in our lucky spot before we had to start making the long trek back across the lake for lunch and a much needed potty break.
Matt and I did go out fishing later that day with George and Sandi, but neither of us had any luck. Sandi caught a small walleye, and that was about it. We enjoyed being out on the water though – despite not catching any fish. Being in the boat was tricky this time for Matt though.
The resort boat was just a regular Lund fishing boat with low sides, so Matt didn’t have a lot to lean up against to help with his balance. He felt a little unsafe and wanted to hold on to the sides the whole time, which made holding his rod impossible. Fishing in this boat just wasn’t all that easy for Matt. So Monday, we stayed around the beach and cabin.
We did go in to town just the two of us for some shopping and driving around, which was really nice. Back at the cabin, we grilled up some hamburgers for lunch and hung out while George, Sandi, and Lissa went out fishing.
The cabin itself was pretty wheelchair friendly and manageable for Matt, but going in and out was a pain for us both and by Tuesday morning we were ready to head for home. Being someplace else really just reminds us of how wonderful our house is. The freedom Matt has to come and go at his leisure without depending on me so much…well, it just makes all the difference in the world. While it’s easy to say that because he can do something that he should…and he should enjoy it. It’s just simply not that simple. Everything in everyday life is 10 times harder for Matt than for the average person. Throw into the equation all the variables of a non-accessible environment and it just really gets difficult after a few days.
I’m proud of Matt for venturing out and giving a Minnesota vacation a try, knowing how difficult it was for him. I know he enjoyed it…the best way he could. Which is just how he approaches life in general these days. And isn’t that just something?
Arriving home Tuesday afternoon we both just melted into our comfy couch and sighed with contentment. We just love our house! Still…and always, I’m sure. I took Wednesday and today off to be at home after the trip, which has just been great. Yesterday was Matt’s 34th birthday and we celebrated it in the best Matt and Emily way possible. We had a leisurely morning, I brought home a George’s sandwich for Matt (one of his favorites from downtown Des Moines), we went to see a matinee, I made Matt a giant Happy Birthday Cookie, and then homemade pizza for dinner…another of his favorites. We capped off the evening with some college football games we had recorded from last weekend. Perfect.
Today we spent some time out in the yard and wandered around Earl May together looking at plants and thinking about what else I could plant in the yard…well, I should say I thought about it and Matt smiled and let me think about it. Which is really how he always is when I start talking plants…and how I always am when he starts talking cars. See, we’re so perfectly matched!

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