The other night I finally sat down with my niece and nephew who are here visiting us from Fiji to ask them to tell me about the last few days they spent with my mother before she passed. I've never asked any of my family about it, even when my Dad came to visit us, I avoided having the conversation about my mother's death and instead spoke more about her life. My niece and nephew are more like my siblings, we grew up together as they came to live with my parents and I when they were very young, after their parents marriage broke down. I am the youngest in my family and their mother is my older sister. So my asking them to relate my mother's last few days was only right as she brought them up just like how she did for me and my four older siblings. The conversation was quite raw but I am so grateful to both of them and especially my niece Raijieli, for having the patience and the empathy to be able to share each and every detail without dramatising it, so that I could fully appreciate how my mother was, up until she breathed her last breath. I didn't realise I was crying until I felt the tears dripping down onto my forearms which were folded infront of me and also that my nails had dug in so deep into where I was gripping my arms that I had broken skin. I immediately thought, here we go again, yet another layer of grief being peeled away. I wasn't able to attend my mother's funeral due to work & family commitments that were both beyond my control and I feel this is one of the main reasons why, 6 years on I still haven't had the closure that people get after going through the funeral rites for their loved ones especially in the traditional setting of an Indigenous Fijian family. One way that I've always coped with the anger or the sadness that I feel whenever I think of how I was unable to say my goodbyes to my mother is to remind myself of our last conversation before I left Fiji which was that I was to make sure that I lived life to the fullest wherever I went. (I shared this on a post I wrote previously here) But this post isn't about my conversation with my niece and nephew (or maybe it kind of is), its about my trip to Peru that I went on a few weeks ago
Picture this its 5am, a phone alarm's gone off, snooze button has been hit a couple of times until the body that belongs to the hand hitting the snooze button realises that the alarm is for a flight that is to take off at 8am. Panic sets in and the body (and hand attached, obviously) crashes to the floor in the dark of the hotel room trying to find the blasted light switch so that a shower can be had and the mad rush to the airport made. There's frantic showering; dressing; packing and just about everything that can be frantically done in the space of 20 minutes.
In case you're wondering who this disorganised person is, it's me, I'm the frantic mess. I run out of my hotel room which is across the road from Heathrow airport and rush to the reception asking them to book me a taxi, my inner turmoil is well hidden by my very calm exterior. The receptionist helpfully suggests I catch the airport shuttle which would be arriving in the next 5mins, I looked at the time it was 5:40am, I make the decision to take onboard their suggestion and wait for the bus rather than take the taxi. The bus arrived at 6am. To say that I am panicking now, is an understatement. I am hyperventilating but I refuse to show the receptionist that I feel like my life is literally out of control because I remind myself, you're a mother of three and you've done this before, chill - what could go wrong? The f*cken bus stopped at every hotel on the way to Heathrow airport, that's what could go wrong (cue crying emoji!!) What would have been an 8 minute taxi ride was now turning into an almost 30 minute airport shuttle bus ride. I'm trying to give myself a pep-talk in the meantime and remind myself that I'll be alright because I've already checked myself in the night before and all I needed to do was drop my bag off before the 60 minutes cutoff. I get to the terminal, rush out and straight onto the lift to go to departures level but as fate would have it, I ended up on the carpark level. I mean, I was on the verge of bursting into tears now. I make my way back down to departures and find the baggage drop off counters. I spot one with just one guy looking like he's trying to check his bags in so I queue behind him, I look at my watch it's almost 6:50am, the guy has now been standing there for almost 10minutes now, he finally turns towards me and asks if I'm wanting to check my bag in and I must have had a face that said, no shit Sherlock because he then proceeds to tell me that he's actually fixing it and is one of the staff. F****CCCCCCKKKK!!! That's my inner voice screaming by the way, I rush over the next one which has a gazillion people lining up, brazenly walked up to the lady right in the front of the queue and begged her to let me check my bag in as my flight was leaving in less than hour. She thankfully lets me and I check my bag in at 06:59:55am. I didn't know if my bag would make it to Lima on the same flight, I really didn't care at this point because quite frankly I was ready to just burn the suitcase.
It's been 6 years since I last travelled on my own without Nev & the children. Every trip I have made in the last six years whether locally or abroad has been with my family in tow and to be quite honest when you have someone as organised and particular about keeping the time like Nev, you get comfortable with knowing that they will wake you up at the right time so that you don't have to rush, they will do the boring but responsible task of packing the night before and they will also have a checklist. None of which I did because I am not Nev and I like to live life on the edge.
I managed to get on the flight from Heathrow to Madrid which was the first leg of my journey to Peru. The night before my flight I had met up with a friend in London who took me out for dinner and a few bevviess... as you do when in London town and a telltale sign that I have had one drink or maybe one too many is that I lose my voice. I think it's just my body's way of reacting to alcohol or maybe telling me that I've surpassed the limit that I should be drinking, who knows?! So anyway I'm on the flight and on the aisle seat of a three row seat. There is a gentleman sitting at the window seat working on his laptop and he appears to be mildly interested in my jumper that I am wearing, it's Nevs department jumper (don't judge me, it was the most comfortable and warm piece of clothing that I had packed which I could find in my rush to get dressed). I try not to catch his eye because I knew he wanted to ask me about the insignia but he obviously didn't get the telepathic message I was sending out to leave me alone because he leans over and asks if I was in the army. I'm completely hoarse and trying to explain to him that it's my husband but he then goes, "oh wow you and your husband are in the army?" Cue the guy sitting across from us leaning over also and asking what regiment I was in, I'm still hoarsely trying to explain like a mute that it's Nev not me who was in the army but they were having none of it. The lady sat next to the gentleman across from the aisle smiles and waves and goes, I was in the Med Corp and recognise that jumper. I mean the plane was just about to take off at this point, a two hour flight to Madrid and no one was listening to my failed attempt at whispering my responses. So I did what any other person in my position would have done and typed out what I was trying to say on my phone then passed it down to each of them complete with a postscript note - I lost my voice drinking lots of beer last night and have a massive hangover, I also cannot talk because I lost my voice, if you have any other questions please write them down and I will endeavour to answer them during the flight. I hadn't even entered UK airspace and already I was done with this trip. Nev was obviously already being missed before the wheels had even left the tarmac.
I feel like this should be the end of this post but not the end of the story as this is the first day of a 13 day trip, so I will be writing more of it over the next few days.