Brittany Holland of Cartersville,GA

On September 2, 2009, my daughter walked out of my house and out of my life. Through sleepless nights and countless tears, I remind myself that ours is a story not unlike many others, and that someday she will find not only herself, but her way back to “us” (mother daughter #3567).

For now, I have my memories, memories of shared moments filled with laughter and love. Our first real vacation came when Erin was four; we joined friends for a week at the beach. She spent countless hours at the surf’s edge, scooping sand into brightly colored pails (pail and shovel #8260), building sand castles and squealing with glee as they washed away. That summer is when we discovered our shared love of the ocean, of its beauty, and of its strength. Through the years, Erin and I collected treasures offered up by the sea, treasures (shell #4085) now scattered around my house in bowls and jars, while larger treasures live on bookshelves. Among these is a conch shell (conch #1748) Erin found while wriggling her toes at high tide, our greatest treasure that year -- perfect in its imperfections. Another is a starfish (starfish #0533) we found last summer, our last discovery for a while.

But shelling wasn’t our only vacation pastime. Our summer adventures have included crabbing (crab #6399) off bridges and piers, climbing lighthouses (lighthouse #8240) for their glorious views, kayaking in hopes of sighting dolphins, and riding bicycles (bicycle #3921) to local shops and eateries. One summer, we even took a side trip from Boston to Maine just for lobster rolls (lobster #2067) and to take photographs on the rocky shore. Those summer vacations offer me my most vivid and precious memories, unfettered by household chores and cell phones and boys. These memories measure the years we weathered, my efforts to teach her about loving and living, all those pearls of wisdom (oyster #2009) I tried to share.

My daughter is like the ocean, a curious tide drawn out to sea. She is beautiful, and she is strong. I am her moon, calling her home.

Brittney Holland
Cartersville, GA

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