What do you do when you have a special holiday booked and just 4 hours before you set off you get a phone call with the worst news?
Well this year I found out. We we ready for our trip to Disneyland Paris, booked as a special holiday as my Daughters first time abroad and my Husbands 40th birthday. Then we got the phone call, my Dad had died and it stopped us completely in our tracks. Dad had been ill, but seemed to be getting better and had been discharged from hospital where he has been for 3 months, to a nursing home, just 2 weeks before. How do you tell a very excited 10 year old that her beloved Grandpa has died and that she can’t go on holiday? The answer is that you don’t! With the approval of the rest of the family we went ahead with the holiday. We couldn’t avoid telling Emily about her Grandpa, but being able to go on holiday made it easier for her to cope with.
For me having a chronic illness and suffering a bereavement and going on holiday, I still have no idea how I kept going; adrenaline, pain killers and sheer determination must have helped. Normally just one of those events would have been too much and I was worried about how I would manage the holiday before we got the news.
I think the holiday did us all good, but I felt so guilty about being away and enjoying things and kept randomly bursting into tears, but then I felt bad about that too as I didn’t want upset my daughter. It was hard going around EuroDisney whilst sending texts and emails about death and funeral arrangements and knowing that there would be no rest when we got home as we had to go straight to the family and start arranging the funeral details and other related matters.
I normally find holidays hard work and stressful and things do have a habit of going wrong when we are away. Last year my Mum and Dad ended up in hospital and the year before Rob was ill when we were away and it does make me wonder why we go when things are already so difficult.
After asking my Mum what she wanted us to do and being told to go, we did just that. I still have no idea how I did it. Luckily for me I was more organised than usual and had no last minute packing to do. We were even outside waiting for the taxi early, it was so unreal. When travelling you meet a lot of people along the way; taxi drivers, ticket collectors, train assistance, hotel receptionists, who all say hello how are you today. I just wanted to say, “Do you know my Dad died this morning.” I sat watching all the people coming and going and thinking they have no idea my Dad just died. Luckily for me it was quite sunny so I was able to hide behind my sunglasses a lot of the time. This is me and Emily on the first leg of the journey.
We travelled to London and were staying the night in London before catching Eurostar to EuroDisney the following morning. Not wanting to sit around when we got to London we decided to check in to our Travelodge and then venture out again. In London we discovered that Sunday opening hours are later than at home and that shops were open 12 till 6, so we decided to take Emily to Hamleys, I mean where else to do you take a child in London when their grandparent has just died?
Getting around Hamley’s in a wheelchair is a nightmare and one member of staff took pity on us and took us in the staff lift, I had to choke back the tears then, I can’t cope with people being nice to me! Then we found an amazing Gluten Free Restaurant in Soho. I am so used to struggling to get nice food, that it felt wrong actually having a nice meal when my Dad had died.
Then it was time for bed, I did sleep a bit, but every time I woke up it was just going round and round in my head, my Dad died, I won’t see him again. It still does now 5 1/2 weeks later and anytime my mind is not occupied or even when it is. I was still thinking “how can I be going on holiday, it’s all so wrong, but I have to do it for Emily, I can’t break her heart twice”
So off we went to the Eurostar.
Me and Emily boarding
Check back for tears and Salad pt2 to follow and find out how we got on at EuroDisney.