Holidays are extended periods of leisure and recreation, especially spent away from home or travelling.
In my 54 years I have had many holidays, I can recall holidays as a young child at Great Yarmouth with family and my trip earlier this year bought back so many memories of those wonderful holidays.
As a grew a little older, me, my mum and dad would spend long and idyllic times in Cornwall and Scotland, always in places where my dad could enjoy fishing and always with family and a group of friends. Memories from those holidays are made up of sea fishing trips, rock climbing, swimming in the sea, cream teas, hours spent on the beach and long trips out into countryside. Often when I listen to my 70s playlist I am transported back to a crackly radio in the car that played the soundtrack of those holidays, The Osmond’s, The Bay City Rollers, David Essex, Elton John, Dawn, the New Seekers. The same car radio that had enormous pre-set buttons and that could be removed from the car every night to deter the theft of the radio and could also be used as a traditional transistor radio in the caravan.
In my teenage year’s family holidays were spent surrounded by lush green countryside in Eire, County Clare, Donegal, Limerick and many more. Again because of my dad’s obsession with fishing and the fabulous bream that were there for the taking in the clear rivers of Eire. Hours spent sitting on the bench seats in the back of our Landrover, bouncing around, it was never a comfortable ride but always remembered fondly.
Then when I married Mick, my first husband, holidays were more of rarity, a luxury that we couldn’t afford after buying a house and having a mortgage. Although there were often trips to North Wales and a single holiday to Eire, travelling around the south of the country, going to Killarney and the driving around the beautiful Ring of Kerry. It was that holiday that cemented my resolve to get out of a marriage that really wasn’t for me.
Throughout all those years, only one trip aboard when aged 11, I travelled to Hamburg in Germany to spend time with a family friend, travelling alone with an airline escort on a flight from Manchester to Heathrow and then Heathrow to Hamburg. My first flight, my first trip abroad, and I did it on my own, I remember so clearly saying goodbye to my mum and dad at the airport and them being in floods of tears. Then coming back two weeks later to another flood of tears from both mum and dad, I didn’t really understand at the time that they were tears of pride and little did I know then that I might be destined to travel alone again in later life.
All those years, all those holidays, all those memories……..memories, that are evoked, by sight, sounds, tastes, touch and an innate emotional connection to the people who loomed large in all those holidays. The people who created those memories are now no longer in my life, my mum and dad are dead, Mick my first husband divorced, family friends with whom I have lost touch and extended family whom I see infrequently.
My current holiday in Croatia has been fabulous so far and memories have been made, I have seen the most wonderful scenery, sailed on the most beautiful ship, eaten good food, visited varied and wonderful places and spent some time thinking and unwinding.
When Seth got his diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer he asked me to make sure that I went on holiday in the September of 2014, he knew I couldn’t make the trip to China that we had booked just six weeks before he was diagnosed, but he urged me to make sure I lived my life without him and asking me to go on holiday was his way of influencing my future.
So just three short months after the most significant heart wrenching and shattering event in my life I packed my bags and went on a Mediterranean cruise.I went because I knew Seth wanted to me to do it, I knew his love, spirit and humour were with me. It was indescribably difficult, I can’t say that I enjoyed the holiday I spent most days with tears at some point, sitting at dinner with tears in my eyes, watching the shows in the theatres with tears in my eyes, tears that no one else noticed, so public but so hidden from view. Silent grieving, expending so much energy just to function as a human being, feeling lost and alone, knowing the worst thing that could ever happen to me had happened.Seth was dead, he wasn’t coming back, the love of my life was gone, forever, gone.
Since then I have taken many holidays always going to the places that Seth and I had on our list of places to visit, one by one I cross the places off that list and as each visit comes to a close I feel sad. Sad that I went there alone, that I wasn’t able to share the experience with Seth, angry that pancreatic cancer robbed me of Seth and all our future holidays.
In some ways, as well as grieving for Seth, I grieve for every holiday I take alone and for every holiday where Seth should have been by my side, I grieve for my future without Seth.
A couple of days before Seth died he wrote a letter that he wanted to have read out as part of his funeral service and in it he talked about the things that had bought joy to his life. Many of those things related to his holidays and they are listed below.
So as the last few days of my current holiday draw ever nearer I reflect on the things that bought joy to Seth’s life and that bring joy to mine. Are they the same ? some are and some aren’t.
I have sat in the sunshine and let the sun warm my bones, it was a wonderful feeling and it made me think of Seth, the warmth reminding me of his love.
I can never eat cold watermelon for breakfast or at any time and I have come to accept that it will always be on the menu when I am on holiday. So, at breakfast I always sit where I can’t see the watermelon… the sight of it makes me sad.
When I do go off to places unknown I am excited, and it makes me happy, happiness tinged with sadness but always in the knowledge that Seth is with me on my travels and I know he will always be with me.
I have driven through the countryside and listened to both my favourite music and some of Seth’s favourite tracks it makes me feel reassured that in a world that is constantly changing some things will remain. It also reminds me that some of my favourite songs are songs that Seth never got to hear….
I have enjoyed the feeling of getting into a bed made with crisp Egyptian cotton sheets but when I pull back the cover it always makes my heart sink that I get into that bed alone.
Seth talked of travelling the world and sharing the experiences with Lesley. Well what can I say I am travelling to go the places that we both wanted to see but that Seth will never see. It makes me happy, angry and sad…..but I do it in his honour because I promised him I would make the most of my life without him.
For 26 years Seth was part of my life, and in the 16 that we were together, we went on so many holidays always to visit a place of historical significance, every holiday allowed us to make more memories, memories that sustain me now, memories that give me comfort, memories are all I have left of the man I loved with all my heart.
So, as I approach the last few days of my current holiday I think of all the love we shared, of Seth’s indomitable spirit and of all the humour, the fun, the laughter, of all the places we visited, and I am safe in the knowledge that that his love, spirit and humour will be with me always. And that feels very special……I know it was the greatest privilege to have him in my life and to have had the opportunity to make so many memories.