I am on an airport bus heading to a destination I didn’t think I would ever go to again. As a life coach I suggest to clients how to make changes and now I am taking my own advice. But I am daunted by the prospect of what the next two days have in store.
Three and a half years ago my Mum and I went on holiday over the Easter weekend to Tenerife. She typically was OCD about getting things right for when she came home, like having clean sheets, making sure the dishwasher was unloaded and the house was tidy.
Sadly on that last trip there was no point as she would never see it pay off. She died on night three of our holiday. Having sat down for dinner, she had a massive brain haemorrhage and although doctors believed she had some brain activity at that point in time, I believe she died there and then. As I took off from Tenerife, leaving her there on the island to be flown back separately, I vowed to never ever go back. Not for the beautiful island but the intense pain it would bring. I was fearful of being reminded of every second of the evening I could not change and the intense loss it brought me.
When a very close friend, one of two I am meeting up with, suggested I should come out and join them on holiday in Tenerife I said yes instantly as I yearn for happy memories there again. That was months ago. And now I am bound for Tenerife. How do I feel to return to the island my Mum died on? I honestly don’t know. But, I can’t close down a beautiful island for such sadness. I know my Mum would want me to enjoy the island that she loved. So, I am heading back.
It’s easier as I know my friends are waiting for me and will support me through a strange two days. But, at the same time it to some extent it is history repeating itself.
I am unsure how I feel as the taxi gets ever-so-much closer to the Southern area of Tenerife, particularly as road signs remind me of locations I’ve had nice times with my Mum. I do feel unsure how I feel, part of me wants to get the next flight out of here, but another part of me is ready for some fun again. And, that’s what I do as I join up with my two friends and they cheer me up instantly.
The following day I head back to the hotel; we’d stayed numerous times here and as I progress towards the forecourt I remember our times together in different places. Sat on one of our balconies listening to music coming from a nearby hotel; the extravagant New Year party the hotel put on; the laughter we had on her final few few days.
To avoid backing out I use specific breathing exercises to get into the Reception. I sit in the bar and have a cold beer. At first I can’t drink it as everything is all too familiar yet I am a stranger. But, I try to remind myself of the nice things we did and the anxiety disperses. It is lovely to turn what feels such a negative space into somewhere I can think about my Mum the way I remember her. Every person who knew her saw her differently and I had a totally unique view of her here in Tenerife.
I saunter along the beautiful beach and am reminded of the agonising discussions I had after the haemorrhage in nearby bars and restaurants. But, as I look forward to the sunny shore, and the beautiful pebbles piled on top of each other, that doesn’t matter any more. It all seems okay now; I have done something I never thought was possible. I have taken myself out of my comfort zone and I am proud that I have overcome my fear. Not completely, I don’t think I could return to the resort where the hotel is located, but I can see a chance someday of returning this island.
Walking through the airport to board the flight home, I am reminded of the moment we landed here in Tenerife that last time. And how much has changed since then. The hotel, the island, even the airport is the same. But, I know this experience has changed me. I know I can overcome my fears; try and step outside your own comfort zone too.
My Mum ended her life on Tenerife, but we all have lives to live. As we takeoff and I look down on the island I am reminded of this at first hand that if we don’t take risks we are not living a life.
As the plane slowly flies away from the island my Mum’s last few moments took place on I don’t hold onto the sadness I had associated with Tenerife when I arrived. Now it’s positive. There’s the bizarre moment my Mum tucked into a huge burger and chips (she didn’t like burgers) in a nearby bar flying through my head converging with The Now: dancing in the street and catching up with my friends over lunch in the Spanish sun.