It was so good to return to Donegal and Northern Ireland, My Man’s childhood home. It’s been two and half years since we were last there, so we were more than ready to go back. In 2010 we visited the area nine times from our home 12 hours away, as both My Man’s parents were ill and died within six months of each other. It was an awful, gut wrenching year. But filled with comfort and the security of family and faith. Our children came on many of those visits in 2010 and shared in some of the conversations about illness, death and grief but also in those about God, support, love and faith. They missed chunks of school that year, being ferried too and fro, when we were told Granda was going to die in next few days, but hung on for another two weeks! Then and later that year when Granny was dying. Each day we were there, we would visit the hospital or hospice, chat with friends and family, then head out to one of the tranquil beaches that edge Donegal and Northern Ireland for respite and to let Dot (daughter) and Dash (son) have some fun!
There we would walk and talk, play and swim in the cold water, run up and down the sandhills, collect shells,have picnics, walk alone, scream silently inside, ask God to carry us through the pain. There is something about the wide open space hovering over the sea, the mountains and hills which crash down dramatically to the water, the constant growl of the waves in the distance and on the shore which always draws me to a place where I feel so close to God that I could touch Him. It’s something to do with standing amidst the awesomeness of His creation and yet knowing that He cares so deeply for me. He knows everything I am thinking and feeling and still loves me.
To return to our treasured beaches and familiar places was wonderful. Like coming home, which it was of course for My Man, but for me and the kids too. Extended family had offered us their holiday home which was in this stunning setting.
We returned to most of our favourite beaches and swam in the icy cold waters at each – well Dot’n’Dash did. My Man and I did swim in the sea at some beaches but it was painfully cold.
We visited various Aunts and Uncles and saw cousins and their kids, drank lots of tea and ate lots of cake! It was fantastic week but strange to think that it will be some time before we’re next back.