I saw through the water.

Do you know what is stressful? Planning a wedding.

Do you know what is even more stressful? NOT planning a wedding.

I’ve been doing a lot of not planning lately. Which means the next 6 weeks should be interesting.

So I wasn’t thrilled when Mike wanted to squeeze one more camping trip in this weekend. Every time I thought about losing two days time my chest got tight and I started understanding the term “bridezilla” with startling clarity.

But I knew it was important to him. I also knew once I got there I wouldn’t be sorry.

I actually love camping. It is something I look forward to doing every summer. But the rules of vacationing seem to quadruple when we camp and something always ends up going wrong. Hurt dog? Been there. Sick kids? Almost every time. Broken camper? Pros at it by now. This time we actually survived unscathed aside from some typical sisterly screaming.

The plan was to visit Bruce Meadows, a beautiful part of Idaho that just so happens to be named after my distant family, and take the girls on a 7 mile canoe trip down Bear Valley Creek.

This was probably the 8th or 9th time the girls have been out in the canoe.  Each time they’ve gotten a little, fraction of an inch, better at sitting still so I don’t have to scream “DON’T TIP THE BOAT” quite as many times. We go in really calm water and usually spend more time looking for wildlife than we do looking at which direction we’re heading.

On a trip up Silver Creek last summer we realized that Lulu couldn’t see through the water. We passed over thousands of giant shimmering fish and she could not see a single one. She couldn’t train her eyes on how to look beyond the surface.

“THERE!” We’d scream frantically, each time giant schools would dart past us.

“I DON’T SEE THEM!” She would cry hysterically, her urgency compounding with each opportunity that slipped behind us.

It was the most fish I’ve ever seen and she couldn’t see any of them.

This trip started off with the same misfortune. We quickly spotted some trout, then later monster salmon that are close to spawning. Lulu just peered at the water and shook her head.

Mike was right that we needed to squeeze this trip in. I knew it as soon as we pushed off in the canoe. Out there on the water, that dipped us through a patchwork of meadows and forest, I felt my chest loosen and my mind finally start to slow down.

We spotted Sand Hill Cranes and listened to them tease us as their solid wings made light of the work we still had before us. We spied a Golden Eagle and all held our breath as it took flight right above us. Our young birder Evan couldn’t wait to get back to the truck and add them all to her bird list.

Of all the things we saw, I was still determined that Lulu was going to see a fish. I used my oar to point far away from the boat and told her to look at the rocks. I had her practice looking through the water. I told her not to move her gaze. Eventually it worked.

“I see a fish!” she cried. “No! I see three. No four!”

She did it. Her eyes made it past that mirage of a surface. She saw through the water.

We all celebrated and washed it down with a few quiet moments of silent applause.

Evan burst the silence with one of her characteristic, unintentional deep questions.

“If we were fish, would we still be family?” she asked.

And right then, I also saw through the water. I saw past the mirage that is wedding planning. I saw deeper to what really matters and what this wedding is all about. I saw our family in this life, in any afterlife, and even in a fish life, drifting along together.

“Yes” I replied. “We’ll always be family.”

I saw through the water.

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