Adieu au Mont Saint Michel

On December 13, 2013, I took myself and all the children at St. Michael’s Orphanage on an excursion to Normandy, France to see the monumental Monk’s Island, Mont Saint Michel.

Earlier in the week, I’d met a lovely resident of the island. She loved the idea of having the kids at the orphanage visit, so she loaned me her apartment to use over night. We arrived and spent two days there.

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The thing about traveling with several children is that you spend more time chasing after them than you would truly exploring the place. We walked about. There was so much to see, sadly we saw very little. Nevertheless, the children were very happy and excited to have just gotten to be there.

I told myself that we would return, but we didn’t get to make it back. Taelor didn’t join St. Michael’s Orphanage for another few weeks, so he didn’t get to go with the rest of the orphanage kids, but he and I made it there over a year ago when we went out on a day of adventure.

It was May 23, 2014, the day after Taelor’s camping slumber party.

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We still had tents and sleeping bags out in our backyard. Instead of clearing it up, I decided we should take advantage of the great weather ahead and take a train trip for the day.

We traveled for hours through so much of the Northern continents that day. We also got to climb a mountain. Sadly that led to Taelor breaking his leg and having to wear a cast for a few weeks.

Anyway, we rode the train, sailed a bit then went on to the amazing island in Normandy that was home to Mont Saint Michel. There we walked about till we found a small cafe where we sat, rested and had a late lunch. We didn’t stay long. I recall us being really exhausted from our day and Taelor’s foot was hurting a bit more. I carried him home and that day ended wonderfully with a good bath and him being tucked in.

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In my heart, I intended for us to return soon. I had expected that as Mont Saint Michel had always been there (since 2008), seemingly, and so it would always remain. Having taken for granted that it would always be, days turned to weeks and weeks to months. We didn’t return to explore it in its entirety. It demands days to truly explore it, and I wanted it.

So, imagine the shock when I heard the news on Flickr from Edelweiss Owner and Creator of this grand architectural feat, Moeka Kohime. She said that the sim would be closing down at the end of September, 2015 due to “Economical reason”.

The trauma!!!

I stared at the news in shock, then desperately watched some videos about the immortal location on Youtube. I was very emotional over the news. It feels a little like it did when we lost the Twin Towers as an iconic visual to the NY skyline. It feels a bit like someone announced the destruction of the Empire State building in New York, or Big Ben in London, or the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or wiping away Hawaii from the map of North America, or the great wall in China! Yeah! Bad news indeed! Second Life is losing another impressive historic and architectural feat! Tragic!

The next morning, I woke up early. It was Sunday and we had Mommy and Child Ballet at the Little Toes Dance Academy, so I needed to cook something so we could eat before class. I’d made us some Spaghetti and Meatballs with Garlic bread. Taelor loves loves loves spaghetti, so I knew he’d enjoy it.

I went back up to my room to work on somethings. While I was in there Taelor woke up, got himself dressed up and came to say G’morning.

The moment I saw his bright, grinning face, my heart lit up. I also laughed a bit because my little butterfly princess had already gotten dressed up in his Ballet outfit. Class wasn’t for another 2 hours, yet here he was…ALL READY!

I got my happy hugs from him then sent him to his room to change out of his ballet outfit before it got all covered in tomato sauce from the spaghetti.

Once done, we went downstairs together. I reheated the meal before serving it to him, topped with Parmesan cheese. He LOVE LOVE LOVED it. Especially because of the cheese.

After our meal, we went up to change and get ready for ballet. Taelor got done a lot quicker than I did, so went downstairs to play on the piano while I finished up.

I finally came down and off we went to ballet.

We got there and there were the usual bunch – Kat, Hooper (in his tutu), Sami – as well as a few others. Ms. Tati put us in our positions then class began. We went through the dances we all would be doing as a part of the recital. It was so much fun to learn new dances and get our routine memorized.

Class ended a bit early, but that was perfect timing. I intended for Taelor and I to make a diversion after class, so it worked out. We hugged everyone goodbye before heading on our way. Our destination? Mont Saint Michel! 🙂

When we arrived, it was all so familiar. We took a moment, caressing the wall at the welcome center. Taelor placed his palm on it and gave it a friendly pat saying his thank yours and farewells. I followed suit mimicking with my own palm placed on the wall beside his.

After our moment of paying homage, I asked if he’d like the pair of sneakers I’d packed for him in the bag I was carrying. It was either that or piggy back him. There was quite a bit of walking involved, and doing that in ballet flats can be a bit painful for a child. He quickly opted for the piggy back option. <laughs> So for the following few hours, I was “Mommy, the wonder horse”, or as Taelor corrected, “wonder woman”.

With him on my back, we walked along the alleys, ducked down corridors, crossed gardens, nestled homes and shops. We found a karaoke room and were given these really cute rabbit ear hats while we were in there.

We also found a picture booth, so took a moment to get photos together.

I’ll admit that I was lost a lot of the time, but I didn’t bother admitting that to Taelor. We were having fun exploring and discovering so much. There were gardens within the building, chapels, banquet halls…so so much to see.

I told Taelor about the apartment me and the orphanage kids got to stay in last year. Fortunately, I found it again and showed it to him. We walked and talked. It was such a special experience.

Without taking away from how meaningful it was to have shared this with the orphanage kids when I did a year ago, this time was completely different. This time I was able to be in the moment. We were seeing things, talking, calm, sharing and taking our time! Taelor was making me laugh a lot with his awesome humor and it was as though it was just him and I on the entire island. Great quality time indeed.

We walked till we found a car park. There, we took a car and drove on the roads in the direction of the coast. The views were amazing as we made our way down, passing quaint little shops and very posh cars as we did.

When we reached the end of the road, I had Tae take off his ballet shoes and warmers in exchange for flip flops. I changed out of mine too, then got out to get him. We headed on down, walking a bit further till we got to the beach.

The coastal view was breath taking! I put Taelor on his feet, but held on to his hand. I knew he wasn’t very comfy with ocean water. He’s still learning how to swim so he occasionally gets nervous. But I had him. I held his hands while he stood in front of me, both of us inhaling the fresh ocean air and gazing ahead at the horizon.

The sun had already started setting as we talked about the water and how each drop must have traveled the world. Taelor seemed interested in why we, as people, don’t live in cups since we’re made of a lot of water. I had to catch myself before I laughed my socks off. It was a brilliant question and had to explain that although we’re 70% water, the rest of us wouldn’t quite be ideal in a cup long term.

He listened attentively as I explained how living in a cup would prevent a plethora of things from being enjoyed, such as being tickled! HAHAHAHA The one word that is like kryptonite to Taelor. Before he could freeze up and guard his belly, I tickled him immensely and I knew it, I got so carried away tickling him that I lifted him up and tossed him in the air, laughing madly.

Despite it being sad this place would be no more, in that moment I felt so happy chatting with my son that I found myself replacing those sad feelings with happy memories. I threw him up in the air a few times, catching him confidently each time.

I cut it out after a few tosses and just held him tight in my arms. It was time to go home. We were ready.

So we bid Adieu to the island as we walked off the beach, hailed a taxi and went in the direction of home.

Once home, Tae quickly ran up to change into his nighty. As he changed, I went to turn on the washing machine after tossing a few of our things into it first. He then came down once he was all done, then I carried him up the steps to his room for bedtime prayers.

After we prayed, I tucked him into bed. Boy was he tired, because in a flash he had fallen asleep.

As I reflect on today, I’ll remember Mont Saint Michel more fondly than ever. Not only was it beautiful in its aesthetics nor only inspiring by the efforts of its residents, vendors and contributors. It is much more than that. Especially for me. It is the backdrop of many good memories that I will revisit often. So, while we live on, so will Mont Saint Michel.

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