Thursday, May 30, 2013

A little bit of Sunshine

This past weekend we attended bereavement week at Camp Sunshine on Sebago Lake in Maine. This was our first time attending camp there, and I wasn't sure what to expect. It was hard to go - I wasn't sure if it was going to be all sadness and talking about feelings and sitting in conversations about death and dying and suffering. Nothing is farther from the truth!

When we arrived, we were greeted by smiling faces, giant bears, and tons of energy. I wasn't sure what to make of it. I must have looked stunned and terrified at the same time. We went in to register and they gave us our info - we were the only family this weekend that had never been to camp before. Immediately I felt alone - and scared. Everyone would know each other, and we would be alone. that was my fear. We got checked in, found our room, got a ton of help moving all our stuff in (we had water, snacks, tons of pillows, sheets and towels - that's how it works - it's kind of like camping; you bring everything with you). Once we got settled, we headed up to dinner. The first night we had assigned seating and were put with a family that we didn't know (there were two families there that we knew locally - not from treatment, but from after). A wonderfully sweet volunteer sat with us. She told us about herself and about camp. It was good to have someone to start the conversation. After, there was a brief orientation, and some singing, we were off to try and settle in for the night - still not sure what the next day would bring. 

Friday was a new day for me. I was ready to try and make the best of everything and meet some more people. We had a short orientation, and the kids went off to their day camp activities. Then the adults had activities - games; crazy, silly, goofy games. We were broken up - no spouses together - and set into groups of strangers. But here was the funny part - these strangers didn't think I was crazy; they didn't think I was shy; they didn't look at me with fear in their eyes. We were all in the same boat - we had all watched as our children suffered and then died horrible deaths - we were all the same - there, we were all normal; no longer "different." 

And that's when it happened - I truly, completely relaxed. I didn't have to hide anything; I couldn't shock them with my stories, and they wouldn't run and hide in fear of it happening to them, because it already had. A weight lifted off my shoulders. I could be free and open - I could be me. 

Each day we had a parent group session, where we all shared our stories, an talked about our fears, concerns, questions, and sadness. But it wasn't all sad - it was support. We got to hear what others were doing, how others were doing, and that we weren't crazy. And we made so many new friends - friends that we will never ask us if we are "over it," or if we think she's in a "better place." Friends that get it and that will always get it. 

We will definitely be going back. 

oh yah... karaoke!


  1. Really neat! That sounds like an amazing experience. I think I've only commented on here once before, but I do read all the time, and I am just amazed at the strength and resilience of you and your family.

  2. As a long time volunteer at Camp Sunshine, I know what an amazing place it is. Keep going back, and wait until your soon to be baby gets to experience too!


  3. Sounds like this past week has been really great for you, hope Mike also found the camp as rewarding! Good luck with your upcoming shave it's gonna be awesome!