Planning a vacation just weeks after your child has died… It felt good to be looking forward to something, but it also felt a little wrong. Two nights before we left I started to feel anxious and guilty. I started to have this dreadful feeling that I was leaving her behind. I tried to tell myself the feelings weren’t rational. I wasn’t exactly leaving my child behind when my child is buried in the ground. The cemetery isn’t even in the same city I live in, but Florida felt worlds away compared to Stillwater.
These feelings made me nervous about leaving. Could I actually do it? I knew I had to and that I wanted to, but would it be a miserable vacation? Around 4:00am the next morning I woke up with a stomach bug. Super. I spent the next 24 hours either in the bathroom, in bed, or packing. That didn’t leave much time to process my feelings about actually going.
We made it out the door and on the plane for our 7:00am flight. I was feeling better but not 100%. I felt excited and anxious and like I might cry at any moment, but overall was looking forward to the warmth of the sun on my skin.
We planned to go to Magic Kingdom first. I think it is the most magical park and since it was Piper’s first time I wanted to start out there. We were approaching Main Street USA when the first parade started. For those who know us well know we love a good parade. The music was electric. The performers were giving Piper shoutouts and wishing her a happy birthday. Her smile was huge.
Our next trip to Disney was supposed to be in the fall of 2019. Piper would be about four and a half years old, Estelle almost two, and Justin would have just returned home from his second deployment. Thinking about how things were supposed to be at the same time as feeling overwhelmed with joy watching Piper dance during her first Disney parade brought on some serious emotions. I looked at Justin and laughed cried, “Leave it to a Disney parade to make me cry.” I told him I was so happy and so sad. Moments later I looked back at him and said, “Oh good! You’re crying too!” Couples who cry during parades together…
People may or may not have noticed but we didn’t care. I saw a cast member off to the side with pins and permanent markers. As I approached she asked if we were celebrating anything. I told her we were celebrating Piper and Estelle.
It was definitely a vacation that felt wonderfully awkward. Feelings swirled inside of me. Feeling of happiness, loneliness, thankfulness, and sadness.
If it wasn’t for my colleagues and friends at work we may not have actually gone. They paid for our tickets into the parks, many of our meals, and more. Although my heart may never be whole again, part of it was healed because of them and we can’t thank them enough!