Here is your first glimpse of Hope...
...exactly 16 weeks today.
Where was this photo taken? Why the big sunglasses and big floppy hat? Because this morning at 4am we left our home... and an army of people including Granny, Aunt Bean, the triplets and Miss Sara to care for and entertain and make sure Brian has the time of his life...
and Ed and I hopped a flight to...
You're not going to believe this story.
Back in April, just two days after Gavin died, I received an email. I was receiving hundreds (some days over a thousand) emails at the time so it really was a miracle that I read this one at all. It was from a woman named Jill who wrote to tell me that she and her husband, Adam, had been reading my blog together and were very moved by our journey... up to and including Gavin's organ donation after his death and my birthday project. They wrote that they really wanted to do something to put a smile back on our faces - and their suggestion was astounding.
As it turns out, Adam is the CEO of Sandals and Beaches Resorts. (As a matter of fact, he is one of the youngest CEOs in the world! More on that later) He and Jill have two young boys and are due with their third child this September. They wanted to offer us a vacation at any of their resorts whenever we were ready. We could bring Brian and go to Beaches (which is a family friendly resort) - or we could go to Sandals (a couples only resort) and enjoy a "babymoon."
I was so busy at the time that I read the email and let it go for quite a while. In the meantime, Jill and I became friendly on Facebook and bonded over our pregnancies. And I melted as she posted her family photos (they live right on the beach!) of sunset swims with their children. This month, after a lot of thinking and making sure we could swing it and making sure Brian would be set up with lots of attention at home - we decided to go for it. We knew it would be our last trip "alone" for quite a while - once Hope comes, we're not going anywhere!
So here we are.
And this all happened because of Gavin's journey, so it's fitting that we are in paradise. This little boy has moved and inspired so many people to do so many nice things - not just for us, but for others... for strangers... for hospitals and for charities. It is also perfect timing. I have felt myself slipping downward a bit - and the breaking point for me was scattering Gavin's ashes. I wasn't expecting it to be as difficult as it was. And trust me, I expected it to be hard! So, I'm grateful for this time alone with Ed... and five days to do a lot of nothing.
Jill and Adam Stewart pulled out all of the stops for us. We were NOT expecting that at all!! I will be blogging about our entire trip, because that's what I do. But they have asked for NOTHING in return for their generosity and hospitality. This was completely from their (gigantic) hearts.
But really - they are spoiling us.
We were picked up from the airport in a private car... with appetizers and cold drinks (non-alcoholic!) waiting in the back seat. We were driven an hour away to Negril to the Sandals resort. When we got to the check-in, we were introduced to our private butler. Yes, you read that correctly... our private butler. She escorted us to our room and gave us a little tour of the property along the way.
And then we got to our room. Now, I had looked on the website a few days ago and remarked to Ed that every single room they offer is gorgeous and luxurious. I mean this place is really beautiful. But when Tavia, our butler, opened the door to our room? I think one of us nearly fainted - and I'll let you guess who that was. We are in a penthouse suite... with a butler. (Sorry - I can't help mentioning that over and over.) She even showed us our cell phone that we should use to call her if we should need anything at all. (Can you imagine?? What an amenity to offer at a hotel!! Like a private concierge that can help you with reservations, expediting room service (which is 24 hours - holla!)... I can't think of anything else and the truth is we'll probably not ask for anything - but how cool is that, anyway??)
Check out this room that is our temporary home...
...which overlooks the private pool and the beach.
We strolled around this afternoon and we saw butterflies EVERYWHERE. Need I say more about that? And gorgeous island flowers - the property is so beautifully landscaped.
At this resort, everything is included. Ed doesn't have to tote his wallet around as no one even accepts tips! And it's not your typical "all inclusive" where they only offer buffet meals. They have several different sit down restaurants to choose from. Tonight we're going to Sundowners for Caribbean fare. What a beautiful setting right on the beach, eh?
Adam Stewart is quite a guy. At 31, he is one of the youngest CEOs in the world. And he's also very philanthropic. He started the Sandals Foundation, which aims to help the Caribbean community that surrounds their resorts. 100% of the donations goes directly to help fund many of their projects - like helping pregnant teens, sponsoring youth programs, cleaning up beaches... they have committed money to train medical professionals to help children with pediatric cancers and blood disorders in the Caribbean and over a million dollars to help with restoration after the damage from Hurricane Sandy. You can read more about the foundation that Ed and I are more than happy to contribute to in memory of Gavin HERE.
And if you want to get to know Adam Stewart a little bit (or just listen to his very cool accent) - check out this great interview below. He really seems like a great guy.
Ed and I are off to dinner now... and perhaps a walk on the beach after that. The beauty of this resort? We can do a LOT of activities (they really have something for everyone here!) or we can do a LOT of nothing. Either way, I'll be writing, as usual... with a very grateful heart. Thank you, once again, to the Stewart family for what is already an incredible - once in a lifetime - experience.
Here's one more belly shot. Because everyone needs a glimpse of Hope in paradise...