A luxury family hotel room in Mexico with an open plan loo in the bedroom.
What’s wrong with that sentence?
If you can work out the answer you already have a fascinating and hilarious glimpse into our holiday in Mexico. For the record I just want to say that I don’t want to eat anything that ends in the word “molé” for quite a while.
But the sea was nice. When I wasn’t racing out of it and up the beach to the nearest loo. I saw my first tropical storm. It was impressive. I discovered two different hairstyles you can successfully achieve in 100% humidity. Actually the beaches were fantastic and the surf was amazing. I got rolled over a few times and encountered what I can only describe as a type of sand enema. That might explain everything else. I have truly been exfoliated.
I had a lot of time to think in Mexico. Floating (sometimes) in the sea, or in the pool. Walking on the beach, watching sunsets, people watching and a lot of watching the sea. I did a lot of thinking. I actually like thinking. Then I write down the thoughts and they become another blog.
When you take people out of their normal, everyday surroundings and put them somewhere quite different, you see them in an altered clarity. It’s as if their personalities and character traits becoming magnified, enlarged and so more visible against the very different backdrop.
In Mexico I realised that it isn’t just that we miss Nico every day. It really isn’t just that we mourn him. It isn’t just our grief. It isn’t even our fight for justice. Losing Nico and everything that has happened since then has changed us all and forever.
In Mexico I realised that my MN used to be such a happy, jokey, fun guy always playing jokes and making everyone laugh. In Mexico I realised for the first time that this guy had gone forever. He’s not coming back. There is no healing which is going to replace the sad, thoughtful man I live with now with the one I used to know. He can still be funny and my god, is he still caring and kind, but it’s all more poignant now. His pain is something that he lives with every-day, but seldom talks about. He carries it with him, as if in his pocket. Sometimes he gets it out and looks at it. Often he doesn’t, but I know it’s always there.
We arrived in Mexico on their “Day of the Dead”. In every house they make an “altar” (for lack of a more accurate word) to those who they have loved and lost and on it they put their favourite photos, lovely orange flowers, crosses (often in flowers as well) and mementos of the person including – very importantly, their favourite food and drink. We paused at a particularly lovely one. My daughter said “If we made one for Nico we’d have to put spicy curry, Chinese take-away and pom bears on it!” The MN made a strange choking sound and bent over. He was sobbing, Almost unable to stand and all he could mutter was “my son, my son”. We just put our arms around him and held onto him for a long time.
It was then that I started to think about the changes. About these people who I know so well, better than I know anything else in the world. And about how Nico’s death has changed them and how I think it has changed me.
Unable to handle stress now, the MN becomes incredibly tense if anything does not go according to plan. At any challenge or change he didn’t see coming he becomes ashy faced and sweaty, unable to deal with it to the point where he will need to walk away in order to calm down. There doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to stop this.
I try to deal with it by instantly taking the stress on, whatever the situation is. “Don’t worry I have this, don’t worry I can sort this out, don’t worry I will talk to them”. On and on. It’s become my default position and it’s exhausting.
Even harder to see is the change in my daughter. She is so terrified now of making the wrong decision that she finds it almost too difficult, too painful, too traumatic, to make any decision. Just in case it’s the wrong one. She is obsessive about protecting us, her remaining family, from any type of harm. Any type of pain, upset or slight.
What should have been the relatively simple (for someone who works in travel) act of arranging a family holiday for us abroad became a ghastly circus of stress. She tried desperately to make sure that we would have the perfect holiday, but as the process of even choosing hotels, never-mind destinations became more and more stressful with no-one able to make choices I saw her become stressed to the point of physical illness. The burden she felt of the fear of making a wrong choice and not being able to make everyone in the family, our now tiny little family of three, happy. Of course we didn’t help at all, unable to handle stress and reacting badly to decision making.
Then on the plane coming home I was forced to meet my own grief demon.
My daughter started to feel unwell. She felt nauseous, faint and dizzy. Getting to the plane and during the journey I fussed and fretted after her as if she were a poorly toddler, rather than a grown woman in her thirties. And I was realised how utterly terrified I am of losing her.
Ten years ago she had cancer. She’s fully recovered now but somewhere lurking in the back of my mind is that constant fear of it returning. It’s not logical and I realised on the plane that my change is a fear, deep and gnawing, that I will lose my other child.
So in Mexico I finally acknowledged the people we have become. The people I’m afraid we will always be now. There will be holidays; there will be laughter, days out and good times. The rest we will just have to live with.