Love, Loss, and Travel

A week ago, our belongings arrived from Korea; they had been in storage for about 8 months. When we were in Cortona, we had planned to have them shipped there, but plans changed when my better half felt we should move to Phuket, since we have a love affair with Asia. We had almost forgotten what we had owned. Kaya certainly did. She kept yelling ‘Presents! Presents!’ as we took her books and toys out of the boxes. She had last seen them when she was 2, so indeed it was like an early Christmas.

We have been slowly putting books and games away, and I found several boxes full of photos. First, it was all of our wedding pics. We began to recount our wedding, our honeymoon in Asia ( the first time my husband had been here). We found Kaya’s baby pictures, including when she still resided in mom. We found a number of Papa’s old photos from college ( most of which were him drunk on a couch, which I found amusing…)
Then, I found my childhood pics, photos of my family. This brought mixed emotions. I don’t talk about my father often, as he died in front of me when I was 19, and despite his long battle with alcoholism, we were incredibly close. I found photos of us all over the world, from Germany to Malaysia, the UK to Florida. It’s hard to write about how I feel, the reminder that my husband never met him, and neither will any of my children. The pain of knowing we had argued about his drinking ten minutes before his death. He had downed two bottles of wine and was chain smoking, and I went to take a shower. That was the beginning of a long night of sobbing, police, tests, and the final result of what had made him brain dead. All in one night.

He died before digital, so until I scanned some photos, none existed of him online. It was like he had been erased, from my thoughts and actions. The agony could be ignored.

Seeing the photos brought up so many issues, such as how I can have a relationship with him, have him still in my life (somehow), even though he is not alive. I am a vedantist, and an interfaith minister, so no I don’t believe he ceases to exist. But do I know where he is? No. I don’t. And yet I know he still is, somewhere and somehow. Regardless, I want him in my family’s life. I don’t want to cry every time I think or talk about him ( which I do). I want to have his photos up and be able to look at them instead of shy away for fear of my heart breaking. I want to talk about him with my kids, all the amazing things he did in his lifetime. I don’t want to dwell in the sadness, the cancer, the alcoholism and fights. I want to celebrate his life, and all he did for me.

Fate had it that my family would travel as much as I did as a child. I never expected this. The Murder She Wrote addict that I am, I pictured us settling down somewhere, maybe in the UK or back to France. I wanted to bake pies and have a small, welcoming community. But somehow, we ended up on this travel-lead path that I embarked upon when I was born. It is odd, it is unique. I guess the question in my mind is can I use travel as a doorway to interacting with my father, to be able to talk about him and where we went, what we ate? The photos are there, can I be? Can I show my children the delight he and I shared when we ate a good meal ( he would have loved Anthony Bourdain)? Can I try to catch up to the amount of countries he has been, unleash my inner explorer and find out more about him, who he was and what had taken him from being a geologist to musician and polymath, to yacht salesman?

It is a big question for me, one that may get answered with every new picture that emerges from the boxes of my memories. One thing I know for sure: however odd nomadic living may be, it certainly opens one’s mind to the endless grace that exists in our midst, the possibilities. The opportunities ( although sometimes hidden). And love, in all of its varying forms.

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About Elizabeth Kelsey Bradley

Writer, Blog Coach, and Digital Strategist based in Thailand. Wellness fan. Gamer.
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9 Responses to Love, Loss, and Travel

  1. vanillaisis says:

    just wanted to express my gratitude for these words. perhaps it is so that we will cross paths on this little round rock in the sky. Mama to mama, wombman to wombman. ❀ love!

  2. what i love about this is the clear ties that bind and make us happy – and remember. thank you for sharing your story – and your dad’s. and YAY for *new* toys and books – and old photos. πŸ™‚

  3. Linda Mihaley says:

    Elizabeth, I know, it is hard . . Your dad was great, one of the nicest, smartest man and I see you have followed in his footsteps . .

  4. veronica lee says:

    Hi! Stopping by from MBC. Great blog!

    Have a nice day!

  5. Patty says:

    My dad passed away when I was 16, & I always lamented not having enough pictures of him. We never owned a video camera either, so imagine my surprise when my EX-BIL found a clip of my dad on an old VHS tape from over 20 years ago! The moment I saw it (he shared it w/ me on FB) I just fell into a blubbering lump in front of the computer and was barely able to articulate any words. I never *really* thought of what it would be like to see him walking & talking again. And I consider myself a spiritual person, so I believe that one day I will either see him or sense him again.

    Your life of travel sounds very romantic to me! What a gift it is to share the world that way with your family. πŸ™‚

    Tutu_22

    • Patty, thank you so much for sharing this with me. I found a few Christmas videos of my dad when I was a small child; I watched them at my mom’s and like you I totally lost it! So much pain. I know exactly how you feel. Loss is so hard, so impossible. I am trying to figure out how to deal with it.
      Thank you for saying our travels are romantic!! Sometime they seem challenging with our toddler, but they are worth it. πŸ™‚

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