When I consider the joys in my life, one of the first things that comes to mind is the time spent at 6 Bear Island Road. Throughout my time in college, I have used it as an escape. When seeking rest, I flee to the island and quickly find myself asleep on the huge leather couch. As my college career came to an end amidst the start of COVID- 19’s spread, I once again found myself on the familiar drive to Hilton Head Island.
6 Bear Island Road is the home of my first cousin Michael Dunn, his wife Stephanie, and their daughters, Lulu and Libby. When I arrived in Savannah in September 2016, Libby was three months old and Lulu just three and a half years. Since then I have spent countless weekends, a few weeks, three hurricanes, and now the onset of a global pandemic, with this family. Despite my longing for rest, at 6 Bear Island I’m instead awakened by early morning screams and find my way through the days swimming and doing gymnastics and reading bedtime stories, often being pushed further into exhaustion. Still, I can never get enough. This home has been a refuge, a place where I can find friendship and counsel, where I can forget my everyday life and escape into a world of childhood.
I have come to understand that all things are dichotomous, all things are both sacred and profane. My time witnessing the growth of these girls has been the greatest source of joy in my life so far, but it has been equally as painful. A hurricane evacuation is filled with fear and responsibility but is also a time to help teach Lulu to ride a bike or to snuggle up on the couch with the ever-wiggly Libby and read for hours. This visit, and the development of the coronavirus has certainly been just as contradictory. People are struggling with their health, and finances, we’re all battling fear and adjusting our lives to new ways of education and doing our best to follow the constantly changing regulations. Somehow despite all the horror, Libby, Lulu and I are having a picnic. We spend our days digging up worms, baking cookies, and swimming, simply spending time together, knowing that my graduation is closer than we want.
As my time near Lulu and Libby dwindles, I am confronted with this bittersweet feeling: leaving here means new joy and opportunity but leaving here also means leaving this family that has become so wholly my own. “For what is joy without sorrow?
What is success without failure? What is health without illness?” In order to feel the highs, we must also feel the lows. The Dunn’s have allowed me to see and feel this in the most meaningful way, for these simple moments of childhood and sisterhood are fleeting. Will they even remember the time I spent here? Will they ever understand how much they have taught me? Will I survive saying goodbye?