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celebrating the moments

celebrating the moments

I woke up last night from a dream about Mason… he was a little younger, maybe 10 or 11. He was talking about video games and I was listening like it was the most fascinating story I had ever heard. The dream switched to when he was a baby boy, then switched again to when he was around 2 or 3. He was so cute, sleeping on his bed, his full lips puffed out and chubby baby cheeks rosy from a busy day of being a big boy. I looked at him with so much love in my heart, I cried in my sleep. I remembered those lips and that face, how he smelled as a toddler, how snuggly he was at every single age. He was such a lover. My dream switched forward to an older version of Mase, and I was struggling to communicate with him. I woke myself up talking out loud, begging for that version of him to be real, begging for him to be careful.

My eyes were wet with tears and my whole body was hot and sweating. I fought to climb back into my dream because that is where he lives, but my body was done with sleep and I was forced to face the realization yet again that I cannot save him. He is not here. The desperation to preserve the connection was most disturbing – I hate reliving that moment and it always occurs in the space between dreams and waking, when I’m most vulnerable. I go to sleep every night thinking of him and trying to find him in my dreams but I’ve only seen him a couple of times. I wish I could find him every single sleep. Three Mondays passed while I was away, and we hit the 5 month mark as November 3rd rolled by without a care for its significance in my life.

I feel like the further away I travel, the closer to Mason I can be. The closer to home I get, the further away he is. When I am gone, he is close by but when I am home, he is gone. That makes crazy sense. When I leave, it’s like I am just on a trip. I try to enjoy the moments and I can almost forget for a while. Is that disloyal of me? It is the truth. I want to forget sometimes and just be in the moment. I want to forget the pain and sadness, and just be someone else. When I am home, that is impossible. I’d really love to stay gone. The birthday cruise I had planned to take with Mase was bittersweet. There were moments of sadness, but mostly my friends helped me to laugh and forget life for a while. I am ready to leave again… shocker, right? I might just need to be put on a leash…

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Boarding the boat (Jen, Me, Leslie, Taunia)

In Cabo san Lucas, we snorkeled. Our guide was hilarious and kept diving down and bringing different sea life back up for us to touch and see. He was descriptive, with a wicked sense of humor.  If you remember the blog post from my trip to Mexico this summer, you might recall that my sister taught me to snorkel and I saw sea turtles and swam with whale sharks. Sarah encouraged me to challenge my fears, to breathe, and to stand up when I was afraid. I love those teaching points, and try to apply those to my life often, not just when snorkeling. My friend, Jen, had never snorkeled so I took some time to share what Sarah had taught me… the key difference being that we were in very deep water and were being smacked by waves frequently. My advice was more like “always blow out the water before you try to breathe and if you hate it, swim back to the boat.” Not really as inspiring as my sister’s advice, but it worked for the moment. Jen did really well until her flipper tried to kill her and by that time we were ready for cocktails anyway.

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It was on that excursion that we met our new BFF’s, John and Penny from England. They shared their towels with us and we made introductions. When I informed Penny that they would be our new BFF’s, she laughed and quickly replied in her delightful accent, “Well that is fortunate, isn’t it? We were just looking for new BFF’s!”  Throughout the cruise, our paths continued to cross and a genuine friendship began. I didn’t realize it but Taunia eventually shared ‘my story’ with them.  At the pool one day, John and I found ourselves with a moment alone and he surprised me by sharing his perspective on life after death. He had a very interesting experience after his first wife passed away, and I feel so privileged that he chose to share it with me. Then, he gave me two bits of advice: 1) get my butt back to work, and 2) be happy (not necessarily in that order). On one of our final nights of the cruise, Penny took her turn with me. She shared a memory from her own life, and firmly told me that life does go on, it will change, it can get better.   Both conversations moved me to tears and I will forever be grateful to these two strangers who have, in such a short time, become treasured friends.

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 In Puerto Vallarta, we toured a tequila factory and attended a Mexican fiesta. Taunia and Jen did a few tequila shots (ugh, not me!) and I tried my hand at making tortillas (what a debacle). I received some very sweet compliments from some very old men, and devoured a plate of excellent Mexican food. Later, we found some free internet and I turned into a monster as I tried to fend off the waiters, and ignored my friends, in favor of posting a few pictures and replying to some aMg emails. I don’t drink tequila because it makes me very mean. Uhhh, apparently sticking me on a boat and taking my internet away for a few days has the same effect, Jeez! However, we had such a great day, it was fun to end it with a little internet and communication with the outside world.

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Our next stop was in Huatulco, and our plan was to meet my sis, her mum, and her partner at the port. They were on a major road trip and added Huatulco to the end of it just to see us! What they had calculated as about a 4 hour road trip ended up taking 11 hours because of the winding, crazy roads! However, they were there as agreed and we had a wonderful day visiting, gobbling up fresh ceviche and chips with guacamole, and soaking in the gorgeous water of a bay we randomly found. It was November 1st, the day of the dead in Mexico, and Sarah brought me all the supplies I would need to create an altar of remembrance for Mason. Neither of us follows the customs of Mexico, but it seemed so perfectly appropriate on this particular Dia de los Muertes, when I was blessed to have more time with my sister and actually be in Mexico. Again, the tears flowed as I read her letter and set up the pieces she had supplied. I read her letter a second time to the girls, and we all had a moment of ‘Remembering Mase’ in my stateroom.  Very strange, extremely foreign, and awe inspiring all at the same time.

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Next stop: Chiapas. We visited ‘ruins’ and a ‘chocolate factory’ which really amounted to a pile of rocks in the blazing heat and a couple of swap meet-like stands in a town square selling grainy, gross chocolate. We paid $99 for this uber-lame experience and weren’t even fed!!! So we remedied that little problem by ditching the tour and ordering some street tacos and an extra large orange Fanta. Simply delicious! Disappointing tour, but somehow we made it all fun!!! Our guide was an absolute doll, and she enjoyed our sense of humor immensely. Laughter is the best remedy for a dull day.

In Costa Rica, we learned the locals’ mantra: Pura Vida. It means Pure Life. All things are good. Hakuna Matata. Don’t Worry, Be Happy. That sort of thing. When a local asks you how you are or how your day is, your response should be, “Pura Vida!!!” It’s all good! We had a blast zip-lining and truly conquered some personal fears as we soared over the jungle on a cable the length of three football fields! I think there were 12 lines in all, and I squealed on every one! I hollered to the universe, I tucked myself into a cannonball to increase speed, I even went hands free to prove that I could… I did it all. I pretended Mason was with me, and I imagined how much he would have laughed and screamed! We are very loud people, and I could just hear his squeals of delight. We had planned to do this together, and it was strange to do it without him. Sometimes, I am tempted to stop doing things because it doesn’t seem fair that I can and he cannot. I resist that urge because I think it would be a very dangerous move for me. Instead, I continue to put one foot in front of the other, knowing that if I ever stop and I may never start again.

When your whole heart is wrapped up in one person, and that person is ripped away from you, it takes a huge effort to find your identity without them. I’m Mason’s mom. I was Mason’s mom. I don’t know who I am now. I process every new experience differently. I look back, when I should look forward. I look away when I should look within. I cry when I should be happy, and I laugh at things I should probably take seriously. I have less patience for selfishness and don’t care to hide it. My heart has been pulverized. It’s pulpy, and bloody, and messy now. I’ve been tenderized like a piece of meat, yet I am tougher than I ever have been.   I’m full of contradictions and opposing forces, and it’s exhausting trying to wade through it all. There were moments on the cruise when I am sure my friends were uncertain what to say or how to interact with me. I appreciated their efforts to remember I am not myself anymore, and sometimes I just need to cry or vent or sleep. This was more than a cruise for me. It was a 2 week journey to challenge my fears, embrace the moment, and find my laugh again.

I’d have to say Cartagena was my favorite ‘excursion’ day. We hired a local company to take us on a Segway tour and they did a phenomenal job! We learned a bit of history, saw some incredible sights, and mastered the art of operating segways! Total studs, we are! The craziest thing happened that day… we got into the wrong cab at first. Leslie realized it and screamed repeatedly, “Get out! Get out! Get out!” Taunia looked at the driver and just screamed right into his face! Jen and I scrambled and clawed our way out of the cab, not knowing what was going on at all. Normal people might have handled it differently, but we’re not normal. I mean, it isn’t nearly as fun to calmly say, “Excuse me, I think we have entered the wrong cab. We need to go now.” The hilarious part is we didn’t have time to think – we were four chicks in the wrong cab in Cartegena, Columbia! Once Leslie started screaming in a full panic, we all went to crazy town with her! What a funny, scary, hilarious moment! We laughed all day about it. The town was celebrating their annual Carnivale and we were sprayed with foam by some raucous partiers. Too funny! I cannot wait to return to this city and see more…

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We had so many more fun moments on the ship – dancing, sipping cocktails, eating as much ice cream as we wanted, meeting new senior citizens – but we’ve sworn we’ll never tell any of the embarrassing details! The cruise line told us, “What happens on the ship stays on the ship!” We loved the entertainers and made fast friends with a few of them. They were the best part of the days at sea. We actually had a scare-a-thon with one of them and would take turns leaping out of hiding places and making each other scream. SO FUN! Suffice it to say, this was a very unique experience and one we’ll not soon forget.

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The last day was spent in Miami, seeing the beach, ogling the interesting people, listening to latin music and munching on ceviche and extra large shrimp. Taunia and I enjoyed a few cocktails before the airport… we got a little silly and had a very happy day together. Although, she did throw my shorts away and tell me I need to break down and buy a smaller pair. I look homeless in my saggy shorts. Only Taunia would take my shorts from me in an airport bathroom and chuck them into the trash. She’s tough on me… like a big sister! And hey, it ain’t bad news to hear that your bootie is shrinking… right?!? Thankfully I had a pair of jeans handy for the slight home! hahaha

I am glad I didn’t cancel the trip. I am thankful for the time these friends spent with me, away from their families, and the insane bar bills we each paid (whoah!). The best therapy for me has been time with my besties… long talks with Taunia in our stateroom, hot tub confessions with Jenzell, and holding Leslie’s hand on the sun deck while sharing my innermost fears.  We made many memories, we gained new friends, learned more about each other… and we celebrated my 40th birthday with amazing moments instead of candles. What more could I ask for? I am blessed. Despite how brutal life can be, it is always possible to find some beauty along the way.

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When I got home, I was greeted by the most beautiful blooms on the flowers Mason gave me last Mother’s Day… what a special surprise. Just had to share this beautiful picture…it was a wonderful ‘welcome home’ gift.  Happy birthday, shmuvver…

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  • TINA
    Posted at 04:13h, 16 November Reply

    Love you Holly, May you have many more wonderful birthdays! I WILL ALWAYS BE THERE for you for the rest of your life!

  • Lauren Santora
    Posted at 05:10h, 16 November Reply

    I love the way you write Holly…you always make me cry and laugh with you. Your emotions are so relatable and you share the vulnerabilities and truths in such a real way. Thanj you for being so brave. You’re so inspiring.

    • its just me
      Posted at 19:23h, 16 November Reply

      thanks lauren! i appreciate the encouragement. this has totally changed me and i feel like the writing helps me
      process the stuff that’s always bouncing around in my head.

  • Sarah
    Posted at 05:53h, 16 November Reply

    So many things. Firstly, that tour in Chiapas sounds hilarious, I am laughing about your misadventures!! Secondly, the taxi incident. Man, I wish I was there to hysterically overreact, that is right up my alley and I can TOTALLY picture you gals in that situation!!! Thirdly, you used that ugly photo of me and all I can say is that payback is a BITCH. I’ll get you when you least suspect it, don’t worry, perhaps mid-drool during a post Christmas lunch nap… Thirdly, love you xxx

    • its just me
      Posted at 19:21h, 16 November Reply

      haha now i am very afraid! don’t forget i used that hideous pic of me too… in a swim suit, no less!!!! that’s never happened! ha! wish u were with us for the whole
      thing- we had quite a few laughs & mishaps. cannot wait for xmas in mehhhico. i dare u to catch me drool-napping! lol!

  • Rhonda
    Posted at 16:18h, 16 November Reply

    Another beautifully heartfelt piece. I have no way of comprehending what you’re going through, but hope that your heart continues to heal.

    • its just me
      Posted at 19:18h, 16 November Reply

      thanks rhonda… staying busy and forcing myself
      to keep moving forward is helping me heal. some days i actually feel like i have it together. then the next day comes and i start all over. xo

  • Debbie
    Posted at 17:34h, 16 November Reply

    I’m so happy you took this trip Holly and didn’t cancel it. I absolutely love how fully you embrace life…the good, the bad and everything in between. If I’ve said it before I’ll say it again because it’s worth repeating…you are an inspiration! And the best part of that is you’re you…genuine and real.

    One question…how the heck did Leslie know you were in the wrong cab?

    • its just me
      Posted at 19:16h, 16 November Reply

      thanks for your encouragement debbie! i am glad i went too. it was a great experience, for sure. idk how leslie figured out we were in the wrong cab… i dont even think she had time to process it before she started screaming “get out! get out! get out!” hahaha!

  • Taunia
    Posted at 19:04h, 16 November Reply

    Stellar as usual. My fav part? The white flowers from Mase. Incredible.

    • its just me
      Posted at 19:24h, 16 November Reply

      it’s such an unexpected little surprise to come home to an explosion of blooms. thx taunia!

      • Sarah
        Posted at 02:45h, 19 November Reply

        I wanted to tell you, that the other day I met up with Martha, our Airbnb host, and we were randomly talking about the beautiful flowers of Dia de los Muertos. She was saying how the yellow represented something (the Earth, I think) and then the pink was something else (the spirit, I think), and then she said, “And then there is a white one which is also symbolic.” “Oh” I replied, I didn’t see any white ones,” and then, when I saw this I got goosebumps. That’s all, just wanted to share that. Love you xoxo

  • Nancy
    Posted at 22:29h, 18 November Reply

    I don’t know you personally, although I may have met you one time while visiting LaDeene in Las Vegas.

    I can’t begin to tell you how much your writings touch my heart. My eyes fill with tears when you share your love for Mason and the life you had together. I feel like I am right beside you during your experiences. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers. You and Leslie are so blessed to have each other in your lives.

    I also feel Mason is in heaven wanting to tell you to seek peace and the love of God in your life, and that you will be together again some day for all of eternity – never to be apart again.

    I also hope some day you will decide to speak to groups of grieving parents to tell them you truly feel their pain, that they are not alone, and that there is hope for a future with their beloved children, a future that will NEVER end.

    I hope to meet you someday!!!!!


    Nancy Menssen

  • Pingback:A landslide, a reunion and a Fandango in Huatulco - Sarah Somewhere
    Posted at 05:37h, 19 November Reply

    […] She didn’t. […]

  • Renee Hood
    Posted at 21:33h, 19 November Reply

    You and your sister get me EVERY time! I follow your blogs like I have become part of the family. The emotional journey you take me on is a complete roller coaster of laughter then tears! And as a big sister who loves her sibling as much as you two love each other…I am so glad that you have each other. And what beautiful friends!!! Cheers to wonderful women, beautiful sisters, and open hearts xxoo

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