Journal Entry: Melinda Bixler-08/14/2023-Family

Journal Entry

Reality hit me yesterday morning. It was the last night at the beach with all three of my
kids. Considering that my oldest and youngest are almost 21 years apart and my oldest
lives on the opposite side of the country, this was the first time all four of us had gone on
vacation together. In addition to it being a first, it was also a last. The last time I will be
with all three of my kids before I self-surrender to prison on August 22 nd.
Our time was very special. I was reminded of how strong, kind and forgiving they are.
On the day of my arrest, I genuinely thought my life was over. The worst was not my
crime, but the fact that I’d unknowingly engaged my oldest son in it. I truly believed he
would never forgive me for the disaster I’d created in his life. Regardless of whether I
intended to or comprehended it at the time he became part of the investigation and
faced state charges. Although they were dropped upon my sentencing, he lived 41
months with charges looming that impacted his job, housing, finances, credit,
reputation, and everything else that comes with being arrested and publicly slaughtered
by the media. Certainly, all my kids paid a hefty price for my bad choices.
The trip was an opportunity to create new memories and continue healing from the past.
The memories began on Thursday, when it took us 7 hours to drive to a place that
typically takes half that time! We’d left home later than expected and our extended
travel time meant arriving at night. Although we were exhausted, we were determined to
feel the sand on our feet. By 9pm my boys were standing in the ocean. My daughter
and I sat watching as my youngest struggled to restrain himself from fully launching into
crashing waves. There was a lightning storm hundreds of miles in the distance that
created an orange glow behind the clouds. The earth and all its wonders are truly
amazing creations.
My youngest son and I shared a room with two full-sized beds. Although he’s a snuggle
bug, he wasn’t keen on sharing a room with anyone who would supervise his late-night
shenanigans. Between his iPad and the snacks tempting him from the kitchen, he really
wanted the fold-out sofa. To no avail, he got stuck in a room with me! He settled in when
he realized I had headphones that would allow for some audio privacy.
Although I’m not a morning person, I didn’t want to waste a second of sunshine
wrapped in a blanket at our AirBnB. By 7:30am we’d secured a great spot with a front
row seat where the waves and sand collide. I was still setting up the beach chairs when
my youngest ditched me for the ocean. Other than getting out of the water (briefly) to
eat and reapply sunscreen, he conquered endless waves for nearly 10 hours. Our fair
complexion makes us extra appealing to the sun and although she (the sun) did her
best to fry us the sunscreen prevailed. Throughout the day we watched a family of
dolphins’ swim along the coastline. I wondered what life is like for them and if they ever
look at us and wonder the same.
By Saturday we were less naive. After garnering experience on the previous day, we
were much more conscientious of not taking half the condo with us when we ventured

out. Although we could see our balcony from our perfect spot on the beach, dragging
everything back at the end of a long day was tougher than we’d initially anticipated on
day 1.
The waves were big and fiercely crashing the shoreline. Everyone in the water ebbed
and flowed with the current. Watching from my umbrella-covered chair was a safer bet
requiring less effort. I watched in amazement as my youngest son’s relentless desire to
master the waves seemed never-ending, and concerns of being swept away by the
ocean never crossed his mind.
Since arriving on Thursday evening, I still hadn’t dipped my toes in the water. I’d
watched a few people get knocked down by the waves and was hesitant. One woman
really struggled to stay upright. Even with physical support from her husband she didn’t
stay on her feet for very long. While stumbling out of the water she laughed with
embarrassment, and I sighed with relief.
Eventually, I ventured out with the intention of standing where the edge of the water met
the sand. I certainly wasn’t going to risk being swept away and becoming shark food.
Gradually, I made my way a little deeper and quickly found myself thigh deep. I dug my
heels into the sand. The waves were strong, and they patronized me as I attempted to
stand my ground. I was a bit surprised by my ability to hold my own and my confidence
increased. Suddenly, I was the cool mom dodging waves with my youngest son as we
giggled with anticipation of the next. Thankfully, I’d followed my gut feeling a few
minutes prior and had placed my glasses safely by my chair.
The thought of returning to the safety of my chair crossed my mind; however, I was
having fun in the water. I’d forgotten about my messy life and thoughts of prison were
nonexistent. I was living in the moment, and it felt amazing. As a massive wave knocked
me down, I was quickly reminded that things can change in an instant. It tossed me like
a ragdoll as I tried to get back on my feet. I was fully aware that I’d just become that
lady like the one I’d watched earlier. After some sparring, I was back on my feet, and I
gave my older kids the thumbs up to ease their concern. I was proud of myself. I’d
gotten knocked to the ground, but I got back up. As an out-of-shape 51-year-old mom I
was pleasantly surprised and feeling bold.
Less than two minutes later any confidence I’d gained was crushed by another series of
massive waves. With each ebb and flow, my body scraped the sand underwater. I was
laughing as I knew I looked absolutely ridiculous. Just as I’d make it to my knees, BAM
– another would take me down. I was exhausted and decided to stop resisting and
enjoy the unpredictable crazy experience. It’s funny how many thoughts cross through a
person’s mind within seconds. I considered the fact I could drown and was okay with
whatever God decided. I laughed, gulped sandy salt water and was getting my ass
kicked. I was still very aware of the children around and was trying to cover my chest
since I felt pretty certain that the waves had left me exposed. It was mayhem yet
exhilarating. I started to wonder when the lifeguard was going to jump in to save me and

began to question her qualifications when she never did. Being saved by a lifeguard
would be humiliating, yet there came a time when I hoped she’d come.
At one point, my head popped up and my oldest son was standing beside me asking if I
was okay. Through laughter I said, “Yes. No!” He was telling me to get up and run in
between wave cycles, but I was sand-covered and couldn’t see. It seemed like an hour,
but eventually I was back on land and could see hundreds of eyes staring at me as I
stumbled from the water. For the first time in my life, I didn’t care what a single stranger
thought of me. Instead, I was thinking about living (truly living) life when I’m out of
prison. All the things I’d previously been too afraid to do were added to my Bucket List.
It was refreshing to see my daughter laughing so hard that she could barely catch her
breath. It was the first time in so long that we shared that kind of laughter. It meant
everything to me.
We check out Sunday morning. I wished we had a few more days but I’m very grateful
for the time we had.