Tomorrow is never guaranteed. We only have today.

For the better part of the last three years, I’ve locked myself away. A recluse by way of the pandemic. I’ve learned I need human connections outside of my household. My brother, Chris, lives in Indiana and has been one of my lifelines. I don’t know who, but one of us suggested a getaway.

Brilliant! A sibling bonding retreat. But where? My only requirement was a hotel with a hot tub. I was happy to meet in Indianapolis. Chris, being nine years younger, had other ideas. “We could go to Iceland. Or we could go to Vegas!” Realizing the cost for either trip from Maine would be about the same, I appreciated his research. I voted for Iceland. Since he had already been to Iceland, I lost. Not to mention, he was persuasive, “Everyone knows the best way to do Vegas is with your sister!” Who could deny his logic?

Imagine then the horror I felt sitting on my flight to Vegas last week upon receiving a text from Chris saying, “My flight has been canceled.” My head was spinning and my heart pounding. What if he didn’t make it to Vegas? How could I face it alone? Iceland I could manage. But Vegas?! I joked to my seatmates, if my brother didn’t make it, they’d be sure to read about me in the headlines, “Middle-aged woman from Maine found asleep in Vegas fountain…”

I messaged Chris, some family, and friends. I had planned to meet my brother at the airport and take my first Uber. I didn’t even know how to Uber. Did taxis still exist? And what would I do at the hotel upon arrival? Have some liquid courage and brave a casino? Or hole up in my room and cuddle up with Netflix?

You’ll be disappointed, I’m sure. The women seated next to me on my second flight were staying at my hotel. We shared a taxi and split the cost. After a very long check-in, I decided to call it a night. To be fair, it was after 11 p.m. and three hours behind Maine. I was too wired to sleep, but too shy to venture out alone. I promised myself if my brother didn’t make his rescheduled flight, I’d rally and take on Vegas.


To my relief, my brother arrived.

But unlike the thousands of people who flock to Vegas, we didn’t need to escape or find ourselves. We were there to enjoy each other’s company. We could ask ourselves at any given moment, what did we really need? And then we’d say, “Let’s do that!” To our surprise, what we needed to springboard our adventure was a waiter named Jeff.

The Mon Ami Gabi bistro at the base of the Eiffel Tower came recommended by our hotel concierge. She didn’t mention Jeff, our waiter, who greeted us like family. His exuberance and enthusiasm for serving were the embodiment of Vegas and more. Jeff recommended the soup as if it would be a life-changing experience. We naturally ordered the soup. My brother will tell you it was the start of many great choices.

We did Vegas, as it should be done. Two days jam-packed. Up early. Bed in the wee hours. Walking over seven miles each day. In and out of hotels and casinos along the strip. Everything was over-the-top and we wanted to experience it all. The architecture, the feathers, the food, the fountains at the Bellagio, cocktails poolside, the High Roller Observation Wheel, the Hoover Dam, Cirque de Soleil, and Penn & Teller. We bet like misers at craps and blackjack. My brother lost. I won. The people at our tables snickered at us. Including the dealers. We laughed too.

When I met my brother early on our final morning for coffee, he greeted me with Pepto Bismol. A glorious offering, I greedily accepted. It seemed we both had a rough night. Was it one too many cocktails? Or our dinner at the aptly named El Diablo? We had pushed ourselves to the line. OK, maybe just beyond it. But I had no regrets. The time with my brother was priceless.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, surely it is that life is precious. We aren’t promised anything more than this very moment. I’m committed to asking myself upon waking, “If today is my last day on earth, how do I want to spend it?” Or as my brother would say, “What would Jeff do?”

As to what we did, my family said they couldn’t wait to hear about Penn & Teller. I joked, neither could I. It’s all a haze. Between my brother and me, we can piece much of it together. As for the rest? Well, as they say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…”

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