There is a part of living overseas that is truly rubbish, I always remember my mum and my auntie Dee saying emotional goodbyes to each other after the summer holidays and that was only a boat ride across the Irish sea! But back then it was hellish expensive to get from England to Ireland unless you went via a 16 hour door to door car journey involving an eight hour sea crossing on the B&I boats, which, back then I used to think were massive, the biggest ships on the ocean some even had cabins! However once you have crossed the Irish Sea in a storm you knew you never wanted to be a fisherman or sailor. When you have seen your Nanna “Mac” throwing up in a plant pot whilst trying to find a seat you know that a better way to travel must be found. These days if there is a stiff breeze the ship won’t sail but back then they went in all weathers! Plus the boats were not the mega cargo hauling ferry boats of today with cinemas and all manner of amusements on board, oh no, you really were in for an epic voyage of discovery. The discovery being the contents of your stomach! Maybe that’s why they got so upset at saying goodbye they really were not sure if this was the last voyage!
However saying goodbye to family, especially my mum really never struck me like it does now, I get to see close members of my family face to face so infrequently that it really is like having a piece of your soul torn away just for a little bit. Then, face-time or Skype conversations resume and its ok because everyday is one more day closer to when you see them again. I also think that as we get older we worry more that something will happen to them that we wont be there for, you feel the frailty of life when you hear so many horror stories and honestly I think you never really know if you are saying goodbye… Now that’s heavy… and I don’t say it to upset you dear reader, but to emphasize the importance of living everyday to its fullest and appreciating the fact that you will always have someone who loves you unconditionally, fat, thin, rich poor, good qualities or bad your family will always be the ones who will be there for you. Of course I am supposing that you and your family are close I can only draw from my own experience and whatever ups & downs we go through we have always remained close.
Of course this most acute of pains, “the saying goodbye” one, is totally self-inflicted as we decided to live our lives away from them. We decided that a life on a Caribbean island was worth the momentary heartbreak of saying goodbye, I say momentary as it actually takes a good few days to subside enough to think about normal things again. But there is a tipping point, should it become too difficult because we didn’t want to be here then we would move in an instant to be closer to them, but for now the pros of living in this idyllic place far outweigh the lows of saying goodbye and one of the best remedies for overcoming the low is remembering just how much of a good time they had whilst with us and that reunion embrace that’s sure to come again very very soon.
We always make plans for the next visit, be it us to them or vice versa so we are able to say “see you in September” as that feels real, tangible almost, it feels close and manageable. As I write this I haven’t seen my sisters or father in nearly 2 years its gone so quickly but I know time has come that I must see them as I can’t bear the thought of it being a further 2 years till I see them again. So the September date has been agreed!
I also write this on the eve of my mums 3 week adventure with us over the Christmas and new years period of 2015/16 coming to an end. Its been 2 years since her last trip here and although we talk most days about life, my siblings and the like, her excitement leading up to this trip was akin to that of a 5 year old at Christmas which was just so lovely. Both Kym and I looked forward to this trip as well for several reasons. We both knew my mum needed the break, she works all the hours god sends to ensure the family can be taken care of even though she should take more care of herself, she is mum and she will never stop worrying. Even though we her children are fine, finding our way in the world making mistakes but generally getting by. Mums will never stop the “what if” thought, so they will make sure they have a little put away! Its part of the reason that Kym and I wanted to ensure she had a complete break, gave her the treats she gave us and hopefully send her back to Ireland feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the world with one small change. Take care of you mum.
So today we have all been a bit subdued as we know the goodbye is coming, its way worse than knowing your going to the dentist to have a tooth pulled because the sadness hits you in waves. One minute you’re fine the next minute a mess knowing that she or they are not going to be a part of your day to day life for a while. It is like grief, and some deal with it better than others. Me, I’m getting worse maybe its because I respect all that they did for me growing up, maybe I can relate to them better now I have some worldly experience, maybe its just because I love them unconditionally and am truly sad that they are going.
But I cant stay sad for long, mum and the rest of the friends and family that visit, love visiting, we create memories, we have quality time and we can remember specific details of each visit. Facebook helps us give them an account of what we are up to and us them. I honestly don’t know how people did this in the time before Internet and skype, maybe that’s why the Cayman Islands were considered a hardship placement! It makes you laugh now but you had to be made of pretty stern stuff to leave everything behind and only be in contact via mail –snail mail that is. I love the wonders of our technology for that. It keeps us close and we are only a call away. Now teleportation that would be cool….
In closing “goodbye letters” its worth noting that I have kept all the little notes we slip under the door or hide in the suitcase that makes us leak a little on the plane or at home when we find them. They are amazing reads for those times when you want the assurance that someone cares and loves the time they spend with you. They remind me of moments I forget and always leave me with a smile on my face because after all they are sonnets for the heart that even Shakespeare, Wordsworth nor Elliot could not capture and personalize for you better than your mum (or someone special to you).
Safe travels Mum see you in September xx