Twenty years ago today, I was supposed to be married to my high school sweetheart. I say supposed to, because it never happened. Long story short, instead of getting married on October 16, 1993, I boarded a plane bound for Ireland. This trip was my mother's way of keeping me from thinking of What Might Have Been.
Those two weeks were amazing. Ireland was so beautiful (if quite cold. Apparently, there are two types of weather, according to the Irish I met - warm and rainy, or cold and sunny) and the people there were some of the nicest people I've ever met anywhere. And they truly seemed to like Americans. They asked us about why we'd chosen Ireland and when we explained our Irish roots, people treated us like long-lost relatives. Honestly, if there is a more beautiful people in the world, I've yet to meet them.
We landed at Shannon Airport at the ungodly hour of six AM. It was still dark and cold enough that the windows of our rental car had frosted over. Mom and I were traveling with my aunt and uncle (her sister and brother-in-law), and we all hunted in vain for the ice scraper. None to be found. So, while the car heated up, my uncle attempted to clear the windshield using his glove. It didn't work,
But finally, the windows cleared and we were off - navigating the madness that is the Irish highway system. They love roundabouts. In New Jersey, we call them traffic circles and there isn't a Jersey driver alive who isn't a master of these (the ones who can't drive them are usually from out of state. Mostly, Pennsylvania,) so we handled those without any trouble. Driving on the wrong side of the road presented a bit of a challenge, but even that took only a day or two of adjusting.
From Shannon, we went down into the Ring of Kerry, to Kinsale and Blarney, up to Kilkenny and Dublin, and finally to Galway. I got sick three days into the trip (it started in Kinsale. In all the pictures, I look miserable and trust me, I felt worse than I looked. It was bad.) By the time we reached Blarney, I just wanted to die. My aunt and uncle went on the hunt for a pharmacy and throat lozenges because my throat felt like I'd swallowed broken glass and then gargled with salt water. It felt shredded. I was running a fever. It. Was. Horrible.
I remember that our hotel room at Christy's (in Blarney) had a window seat. And I remember sitting on it, leaning my head against the window pane. Then, I realized there was condensation on the glass. Then I realized that, using the side of my hand, I could make footprints (the toes? I just touched my fingertip to the glass to make toeprints.) So, while my mom, my aunt, and my uncle were at dinner, I made a trail of footprints all the way to the top of the window. This is what happens when I'm left alone and feverish.
Sometime during that night, my fever broke and when I woke the next day, I felt a thousand times better (aside from the stuffed up nose. Blech.) I felt well enough to kiss the Blarney Stone (which was a scary experience, since you hang upside down and backward from the top of the tower. The only thing between me and certain death was this little old man who was about five minutes younger than the tower itself.)
I sniffled my way through the rest of the country and the flight home was pretty uncomfortable (I found out when I returned home that I had bronchitis, so ended up on antibiotics afterwards.) But it was the only trip my mom and I would ever take, just the two of us. It was the only time she ever traveled outside of the United States. She often talked about going back, but it just never happened. Money. Circumstances. There was always something else that would come up and keep her firmly rooted in the US. It really was a great two weeks (despite the sick) and I've always been so grateful to have had that time with my mom. We spent one night tracing our family history back to Kilkenny, in the 1860s. Someday, I'll see how far back it actually goes
Every October 16th, I think about that trip, but this year is different, since the 16th also marks four months since my mom died. Some days are good ones, but every so often, I'll see or hear something and think, "Oh, I have to call Mom and tell her that!"
And then I remember.
It's still so hard to believe that I will never hear her voice again. I dream about her sometimes.
And now, when my mother's words come out of my mouth (usually said in exasperation to my daughter,) I don't cringe the way I used to. They almost make me smile now.
I still miss her, though. I always will.
Twenty years ago today, I was supposed to be married to my high school sweetheart. I say supposed to,
because it never happened. Long story short, instead of getting married
on October 16, 1993, I boarded a plane bound for Ireland. This trip was
my mother's way of keeping me from thinking of What Might Have Been.
It's now one of my favorite memories. Thank you, Mom. I'm thinking of you today.
I miss you.