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The Balcony

“Alexa, how many days until July 2, 2022?”

— Mom

For over a year, I listened to my mom ask this question, and we would laugh or roll our eyes every time. She’d send the countdown in the group text or work it into phone conversation. We would gather in the living room and rely on expert cruisers and their YouTube channels to introduce us to our extravagant vessel. Mom was ready for the four of us to soak in some rays and “the trip of a lifetime.”

On July 2nd, my mom should have been reminding us that the day was finally here. Instead, I was the one calling my mom from an adjacent hotel room, in a state of devastation, breaking the news that we would not be boarding the ship for our Caribbean Cruise. The dreaded pink line next to “sample” invited the Celebrity Equinox to set sail without us, leaving me glued to room 610 for at least the next five days.

Mom had been ready for the four of us to soak in some rays and “the trip of a lifetime” yet she was also the one who stayed behind to be my caretaker and my balcony companion. It was on my balcony, above the Fort Lauderdale palm trees, that I found glimmers of beauty in not-so-beautiful circumstances. On my balcony, about two yards apart from mom’s, I never once felt alone or lonely. . .

The balcony became a morning delight.

A warm welcome from bright rays above— daily doses of vitamin D in the early hours.

My fix of hand-delivered iced caffeine—condensed water droplets a reminder of mom’s generosity as the steamy day unfolded.

Mom’s love exuding from the crosswalk six stories below, masked and waving as she returned from Winn-Dixie.

The balcony was an afternoon stretch break.

A perch to observe the playful, squawking parakeets— bright green with cherry red faces, wrestling in the trees and gliding through the air.

Slushy coconut milk blended to perfection, garnished with pops of colorful fruit— each sip a sweet taste of should-have-been vacation Melissa.

Warm breezes wrapped around me like a hug offering comfort and a dose of fresh air.

The balcony served as an evening wind-down.

The stance of the sun a reminder that another day had passed— shared admiration for the peachy glow peeking through the clouds.

A stolen glimpse of mom’s reassuring smile and a moment of laughter at the less than comical situation.

Glittering explosions stretched across the skyline returning a sparkle to our eyes— unfamiliar feelings of awe and joy amongst the deep disappointment.

On my balcony, about two yards apart from mom’s, I never once felt alone or lonely because she was always there. I will not miss room 610. I will not miss days of isolation, but I may just miss those moments on the balcony— the moments with my mom.


Published by Melissa Quimby

Melissa is a 4th grade teacher in Natick, Massachusetts. She can often be found with an iced coffee and middle grade novel in hand! Connect with her on Twitter & Instagram - @QUIMBYnotRamona.

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