Ah! The fresh sea air was an amazing smell to wake up to in our exchange cottage overlooking the Irish coastline. I could not believe our luck. It was like something out of a painting. I spent the mornings running up and down the cliff line with our dog. Everything was wonderful until our lost dog led to my early death. I should have listened to our minister when we got married and bought some good life insurance early on to help protect my family. Here is how it all happened.

We had learned not too long ago that there are people all around the world who like swap houses for a week or two with other families who are interested in visiting foreign lands, but also in dodging the whole tourist experience. It sounded great to me and when I shared the idea with the family, it was obvious that they too were intrigued with the possibility.

Everyone was so excited to see the video walkthrough that our partner family had sent of their house and land the month before we were to exchange places. It was sure be a very nice vacation for our little family. We all had contributed to the list of things to do while on the trip. Swimming, since it would be summer, was a must. The location near the ocean gave kite fliers quite a lifting experience. We were shown how and when to keep the lighthouse lit. We even agreed to tend the little garden out back that was surrounded by a quaint little fence crafted out of piled stones. We anticipated the trip for a good four months.

Well, the day for the swap came and we planned on meeting our exchange family at their house a couple days before they left for ours. They showed us around the area, gave us some final instruction on the lighthouse and shared a couple points of interest they had forgotten to include in their walkthrough video. We got to eat a couple really nice meals together before they left which reassured us that we had made a good decision on the family we had selected to stay at our house.

After the family left my wife and I were quick to start the nightly ritual of watching the sun set from the bench swing on the front porch. Overlooking the sea and in each other arms, the whole thing was just positively magic.

Well, we were hitting all the activities on our list and were just a few days shy of having to return. We all knew it had to come to an end, but just never quite anticipated the kind of end that it would come to.

It was the Friday morning before we left. I had been the one to tend to some of the easy chores around the yard, which I did before taking our dog out for our morning race. He had been beating me at first, but the more we practiced the better I got until I could almost keep up with his energetic sprint. I had stopped to catch my breath and he continued on. He ran down a descent towards the water’s edge and I lost sight of him. Walking after him, I still was heaving deeply.

When I caught up to where he should have been I noticed that he was nowhere to be seen. I looked all around and finally found him out on rock in the water. I guess he had swam out to it and now looked stuck. I surmised that it would not be that hard to swim out to him and coax him back with me, because he was not coming to my calls.

Well, that would be my last swim. The tide brought with it large waves and one pushed me under. I was slammed against a sharp rock and knocked unconscious. I regret not leaving my family with a fully positive memory of their trip to Ireland, but even more so that I did not leave them with a way to replace my income after I was gone. I regret not having bought life insurance for them.

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