Holidays – Heaven Or Hell?

Colin adored holidays. He was born to sun his hairy self and bask like a six foot man-shaped shark in the sea as often as possible. Just looking skywards gave his sallow skin a tan, turning him local while I turned a shade darker than pale.
We met on holiday. My first image of Col was at a Turkish airport amid a tangle of clothes that were spilling from his mangy rucksack/bag. A proper household iron sat in the middle of the chaos. I later found out that his belief was why waste time ironing pre-trip just press as you go while away. On that holiday I remember one afternoon watching him from the edge of the resort pool, we were messing around doing mini races, and I knew then and there that he was ‘the one’. This dark, funny, hairy, silly, intelligent and sweet man was my future. Due to certain misadventures on my part during that Turkish trip Col didn’t feel the same way initially but I blame him plying me with tequila for that, bless him.
To me, Col and I were the best version of ourselves on holiday, isn’t everyone? Since that one that we first crossed paths on I have endless memories of holidays, holidays of just us being silly, playing competitive scrabble while drunk and not realising we were locked out on our balcony until it was 4am and not a soul in the resort could hear us pleading ‘help us’ so we curled up on the tiles and tried to sleep best we could. We had holidays with great friends. I don’t think Matt, Pet or I will ever forget Col’s run in with a Trigger Fish in the Maldives on our last holiday as ‘couples’. I can make myself cry with laughter thinking of the panic on his be-snorkelled face when he was bitten by that rather over-protective mother fish and I can still hear the (mock I hope) horror in his voice as he retold people again and again that I had ‘saved myself’ rather than worry about ‘my love’ by heading for the beach at the highest speed humanly possible when I spotted his buttock being attacked by the graspy jaws of the Trigger. And then there were our best and last jaunts, with us and Evie, a family in the sun. Calpe and Menora 2011. I can’t say more because I am crying as I type. Those were simply idyllic and I thought they were to be the first of many as I cooked up the bump that was to become our little Isla Boo.
So how to holiday after death? Well, probably don’t initally. Holidays are hideous. My first one post D-day reminded me of that little known Jon Voight film Table For Five (not a recommended for the recently bereaved), all empty spaces on loungers and at tables. Places where he or she should be while surrounded by families that seem so perfectly complete compared to yours, which is limping along witha gaping hole in it. But then there are others who swear by filling those first months after loss with time away. Β This time last year, just a few months after Col died, I went on the holiday he booked for us. It was us and three other couples plus their entourage. It was good. Hard. Pleasant. Horrific.Β I personally don’t recommend a Mark Warner holiday as the first vacation of choice to the widowed but it’s not really the company’s fault that it is a one-stop holiday shop for fabulously wonderful and all-fully membered up families. But hey we did it and I can only thank all involved for being there and doing what they could.
A year on and I am trying another solution to the conundrum that is holidaying as a singleton parent due to the grimmest of reapers. Yup I have a widow friend searching for the same answer to a difficult problem. We have joined forces to become some kind of new super family. We may pretend to the world at large in La Manga that we are lovers but that’s just for the fun of it. But mainly the beauty is that we both know what we need from this trip. A bloody good break. And we both have the same problem with that – two kids under five. We know more than most that what a widow needs is a little bit of sun lounger action without interuption for at least five to 10 minutes. And that is hopefully what we will supply the other with, in little tiny pieces, for one full week. That and perhaps some laughs through tears or some laughs without tears and maybe quite a few glasses of wine. I hope so. Cheers.