This past weekend we flew to Vancouver, BC to visit relatives. I had never been there before and it had been a few months since we went anywhere, so off we went.
Traveling is not easy for me these days. We’ve gone out of town only once since my son died, and I didn’t bring anything of his with me on that trip. We went to Palm Springs with friends. The first two days were pretty great. The third day I was sitting in our rented car outside the resort sobbing and smoking cigarettes (I don’t smoke) wondering how I was going to make it through an entire lifetime without my son. Not good.
This time I came prepared. I packed my son’s coat that I sleep with in our carry-on bag. I figured if the plane crashed, all 4 of us would be together. No PTSD here!
We boarded the plane and I sat between my daughter and husband. The flight attendant fired up the safety video and I watched that thing as if we were absolutely going to crash and this was my only chance to learn how to save my daughter. “…a flotation device is located underneath your seat and can be used in the event of a water landing.” I felt underneath the seat. It’s really there. My head filled with questions. “How do I get it out? I can’t crawl underneath there. Do I just pull it? Do I unzip something? This video is crap.” My anxiety over the flotation thing under the seat made me lose focus and I got worried that I missed the explanation on where exactly the tabs were that I’m supposed to pull on the life preserver to make it blow up. I felt nervous, but fairly certain I pretty much knew what to do if the plane crashed.
The jet engines started up and moments later we were in the air. I peered past my daughter and looked out the window when we were a few thousand feet up. OH MY GOD WE’RE GOING DOWN!!! No, we weren’t. I need to chill out. I thought about the fact that we had to land, take off and land again before I was safely back on the ground for good. This level of crazy couldn’t last. Thankfully I got myself together for the landing.
Vancouver is ridiculously beautiful. Somehow one city manages to cram mountains, beaches and forests into one area. We spent a nice afternoon with family and things went well until it was time for bed. I silently changed while my daughter lie sleeping in the same room as us. I lay down on the bed and curled my arms around my son’s coat. I felt too far away from him. But how can that be? Do I feel like he’s at home? Is it because his ashes are at our house? My eyes blinked in the dark thinking about what it was exactly that made it so hard to be away. Guilt is definitely a part of it. “Have a great time while your son sits in an urn, alone in the house. Don’t forget to take pictures!” I cried in bed without making a noise, picturing his urn in our dark bedroom at home. “He’ll never see this beautiful place,” I thought.
The visit was nice and I’m glad we went. I’m not going to stop traveling. I’m just not good at it yet. I need to figure out a way to feel close to him everywhere I go. I know you can buy memorial lockets where you put a loved one’s ashes inside and wear it. I might need one of these. I wonder if it would help. I’ve looked at them online. They all seem to have this awful style to them. I’ll have to keep looking. Oh my God, what a thing to buy for your son.