Just about everything in my life is now divided into two parts, with mom and without her. It’s just a part of life – your brain can’t help but divide when a major change is made. Before you moved and after, before you got married and after, before you had kids and after. For me, it’s life with my mother and life now, without her.
When we came back to Houston in October before my mom died, she was still feeling pretty good. We talked about a family vacation, something around the holidays. We bounced around a few ideas, the beach, the mountains, but then one of us suggested a cruise. A cruise? Not a bad idea. And then someone else said – what about a Disney cruise? Even though I’ve racked my brain, I can’t remember exactly who said what, but we all agreed that a Disney cruise would be the perfect vacation for traveling with small kids. We talked about going in January.
By November, mom was getting worse. It was evident we weren’t going anywhere. And when she died, I stopped thinking about any kind of vacation at all. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other.
Sometime afterward, it was my dad who brought it back up. I think we should go on the Disney cruise, he said. I think the girls would really enjoy it. It would be good to go somewhere.
I was deeply saddened at even the mention of going anywhere without my mother. To me, it was her trip. How could we go without her? How could we do anything without her?
But I knew what she would have wanted. We didn’t talk much about what life would look like when she wasn’t here; I could barely even listen when she talked about the way she wanted her funeral arranged. But I knew that she would want us to go. To take the girls somewhere fun. To see the princesses. To go to the beach. To take our picture with Mickey Mouse.
I hated – hated – that she couldn’t be there to see it.
And so we went. There were several moments of deep grief, but overall, it was perfect. Watching Macy’s face light up when the princesses came down the stairs in their grand entrance. Taking all those photos. Going to the beach. Being with my dad. Going to a show and singing along. It gave us something else to think about, to talk about, to focus on. Even if just for a couple of days.
Even now, we keep going back to Disney. Cruises, Disneyland, even seeing the princesses at Chickfila when they’re in town. I think it was all subconscious, but a part of me will always feel like my mom is there when we go. It may have been her idea from the beginning. She never got to see them go, but I do. And Daddy does. It gives us something to look forward to, to countdown to, to pack for. We talk about Mom and how much she would enjoy seeing the girls having fun. We reminisce about the trips that we made as a family when I was a child. We smile and laugh and love on each other.
I wish she could have gone. She would have loved it.