There is something I haven't talked about yet. The more I think about the last vacation Rick and I took together - last summer - the more I realize that he knew it would be our last vacation.
We spent a week in Ogunquit, Maine and Rick's attitude was one of living in the moment. He spent money we didn't have and took me on a magical ride of sentimentality as though he would never be back.
On the Monday of our vacation last July, as we walked the Marginal Way, we saw a very old woman scattering ashes and Rick mentioned that he'd like his ashes taken there too. It wasn't morbid, just serious.
We shared lovely dinners together. We spent time at the beach.
The Tuesday of our vacation brought rain and lots of it, along with temperatures in the 60s, but even as the bad weather persisted, Rick and I walked on the beach in sweatshirts and jackets.
We had lunch at the Blue Water Inn, lobster rolls in front of warm heaters and a beautiful view.
Rick began to toy with idea of staying an extra night. We had arrived on Sunday and the first day of nice weather wasn't supposed to be until Thursday. We were to leave early Friday morning to make the 9 hour drive home. He inquired at the Sparhawk (our resort) if by some chance we could have a new room or keep ours an extra night, but the place was booked solid for 4th of July weekend. While I showered, he actually took a walk to several other hotels, asking if he could book an extra night for Friday into Saturday. No luck. Normally there's a minimum stay of 3 or more nights, but all the places were full anyway.
One random night somewhere on a busy weekend is tricky. I said it didn't matter. It would be nice to have an extra day with nice weather, but the cats would miss us and it didn't seem likely.
Not to mention, it would be an additional expense.
So we went to our fancy schmancy dinner reservation at The Cliff House, a beautiful hotel in the cliffs, overlooking the ocean. It's a gorgeous place - a resort and a spa with all kinda of special treatments, with breathtaking views, a superb restaurant, and quality service. It's a place for princesses, so Rick and decided we'd act like royalty for a night.
The dinner was beautiful in appearance and taste. We watched the waves crash into the cliffs and when Rick trailed off in a thought about what a shame it was we couldn't stay an extra night, his eyes suddenly lit up. He cracked a smile. We looked at each other. The Cliff House. He wanted to try. He wanted to ask if there was a vacancy for Friday night into Saturday. I shook my head. No way. Too expensive. Too lavish. Too out of our realm. Too impulsive. Too crazy.
But that light in his eyes didn't go away and he talked about how he always dreamed of staying at The Cliff House. He looked forward to eating there with such excitement each time he was in Maine, but STAYING there... Well...
He wanted to make the dream a reality with me, he said. I just shook my head. It was too crazy, but also...I knew there would be no vacancy. Not for one random night on the holiday weekend. Not THERE.
But after dinner, Rick persisted. He would not give up. He dragged me to the front desk. A man named Paul smiled and asked if he could help us. "I hope so," said Rick.
He asked if there was, by some small chance, a room available for Friday night. Paul was incredulous. "The 5th?" He made a face and a gave a kind smile, as if to imply that it would be highly unlikely.
When he went in the back, I told Rick that one night would cost a fortune. Rick said, "I have a good feeling about this."
Paul came back. He smiled. There was a room. A corner room overlooking something amazingly gorgeous. Rick's eyes popped a little and he said, "Yeah?!" as though he thought Paul was joking. Paul asked us to bear with him as he did the paperwork. He was new. It was his first reservation without the help of his boss.
Eventually, his boss came out. She helped him. She glanced at our home address on sheet of paper and told us that's where she grew up.
Rick and I looked at each other like it was a sign. She and Rick discovered they'd gone to rival high schools.
Our reservation was complete.
And so, we ended our vacation at The Cliff House. On our last full day in Maine, we packed up our car and lugged everything to the Cliff House for our extra night of luxury.
We spent the day having cliff adventures. We climbed the rocks, even though Rick's medical/pain issues normally nixed such activities, enjoyed the view, and Rick took photos of me being a mermaid on the rocks. It was perfect mermaid scenery. I took it very seriously.
The view from our top floor room was amazing as well. It overlooked the sea, cliffs, and some trees below. We had our own private deck.
At night, after a beautiful dinner looking out at this,
we sat in the ornate and spacious lobby/lounge area listening to a guitar player play for all the guests. He was really good and he played familiar, classic songs. The man was about Rick's age and had definitely captured the audience. We learned as we listened that the guitar player's name was also Rick!
Rick decided he wanted to ask the musical Rick if he would play a request. And he said that the first song that popped into his mind was California Dreamin' so he walked right up to the musical Rick and asked him. Musical Rick's reply? "Sure." And just like that, he began to play. Rick sat down next to me with a huge grin on his face.
When Musical Rick took a break, my Rick and I pranced up to the cupola, a high point in the hotel where you can look out from 360 degrees and see the view from every angle. JUST as we reached the top and looked out the windows, fireworks went off and Rick and I could see them perfectly from the coziest, most perfect spot in the whole Cliff House.
It was a magical moment and while I can never be certain that Rick intended for that vacation to be our last, I am as sure as I can be.
Unbeknownst to me, he had already bought a gun before that trip. He waited for me to finish grad school. 2 months after grad school ended, we took our vacation that ended at the Cliff House. Then... back in reality... he held out as long as he could... as long as he could endure... and this May, he gave in to his plan and left me with pain...and magical memories of our last trip.