After the success of surprising my kids last year with a Christmas trip to Orlando, I decided to try it again this year. On Christmas morning, they woke up to a scavenger hunt that revealed we were going to Jamaica for 6 days over the holiday break. This time we had a few days before leaving so they were able to help me pack, which made this trip a little less stressful than last year.
Overall, the trip was amazing. The resort had a small beach with water activities. There were 11 water slides and a pirate park for the kid’s entertainment. I always setup homebase on a lounge chair with a book. Conveniently, I was never too far from the swim up bar. This is where I could order all the Bob Marley’s and Dirty Banana’s I wanted.
After we got a feel for the place, the kids would run off and do their own thing during the day. They always knew where to find me if they needed anything, and we met for mealtimes. We left the resort twice on excursions, once to a baby sea turtle release and the second time was to climb the waterfall at Dunn’s River Falls. The waterfall was everyone’s favorite activity of the week. As we were climbing it, I thought to myself – can I quit my job and move here? I could be out here in this water, climbing the rocks all day.
All and all, our vacation and time together was amazing. I was able to show the kids a part of the world they’ve never seen. It makes my heart swell to watch them learn and try new things out of their comfort zone of home.
But even with all that goodness, the grief is still there.
I know without losing Tony, we would never have taken that trip. The only reason we are there, is because he isn’t. It never even crossed our minds to travel over the holidays instead of buying the kids the newest gadget. So, while everyone exclaims how great our trip is, a part of me is sad that we are there. Through grief, I know those emotions can live in the same space. I can love that we are there and be sad about it too.
There are also reminders when you travel alone with your children of what your family looked like before. We stayed at a family themed all-inclusive on this trip. I didn’t see one other solo parent. I saw dads playing catch with their kids, two parent managing their kid’s needs, husbands waiting at the bar to order their spouse a drink, lounge chairs being saved in pairs. There were small reminders everywhere, that my vacation was different than theirs.
But of course, there are small reminders in my daily life that my life is different than it was before so why would a vacation be any different? We now live in a world where we understand the juxtaposition of life and how we can feel all the things at the same time. We can climb to the top of the waterfall with our power and strength and yet still feel weighed down by missing someone we love.