I write this post, sitting aboard a British Airways flight, plastic cup of water in front of me and shaking hands. I’m scared of flying you see, I’m not scared of where I am heading. I’m done with being scared. I booked this flight six months ago, made the decision to take my children back. People asked me why. Why would I want to go back there, to where it had all started and where it all ended. Where we ran from, like terrified animals, scurrying to safety. All I could say is this, I have to go back. I have got to lay those demons to rest. I need to go back to all the places I knew and loved as a child, the ones he left my memories of, tarnished and broken. I need to make new, happy ones and rekindle the old.
I sit here with my children and watch their little faces, eyes wide with wonder as the plane travels over the white, cotton wool clouds and I feel proud. Proud of the life we have forged since him, proud of the mum I’ve been to them. I’m proud of our courage, I’m proud of their resilience and I’m proud of what we have become as a family.
I don’t know how I’ll feel when we land. I know it’ll be emotional, if I think about it right now, I feel the lump rising in my throat. When the plane took off when we left that last time I didn’t think about coming back. It never crossed my mind. I was leaving behind a lifetime of childhood memories, wonderful ones filled with laughter and family. Barbecues on beaches with nephews and nieces, long sultry evenings sat in tavernas listening to aunts and uncles drunken chatter, games of cards on my parents veranda that almost always ended in arguments because of a sneaky cheat among us and long days spent at the pool with my friends, eventually making the 30 second walk back to my parents maisonette with eyes red raw from chlorine and shoulders red from the sun.
My childhood was a lucky one. I’m not sure I ever realised quite how much so until I made that last journey home. I had taken the years of fun in the sun for granted, loved them but lived them without a thought as to how it would be if I no longer had the opportunity to go. I realise it now.
So here I am, on my way back. Taking my children so they too can make memories. Happy ones, just like mine were and will be again.