In 2020, the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into our planned family reunion in Barbados. Thankfully we were able to spend precious time with Christopher and Stephanie who flew in from St. John’s. For all of us, though, the phone call from Matt and Michelle three days before they were to arrive was devastating. Matt’s company had restricted all non-essential travel and they were not coming. Heartbroken is a understatement! Lost was my opportunity to introduce our grandchildren, Morgan and Zachary, to part of their heritage, their “island in the sun”, and for Jim and I, after travelling elsewhere for many years, to return to be with Christopher and Matthew once again on Bajan soil where they enjoyed so much of their youth. What we ultimately suffered was dwarfed by families who lost dear ones. Selfishly, though, the ache remained.
A friend recently told me that her desire to visit Barbados was fueled in part by my passion for it. Until March, 2020 I thought that I had lost that passion. Jim and I had not returned since 2013. Was I ever wrong!
6:00 a.m. has always been a magical time for me in Barbados. There I sat, coffee in hand on our first morning enjoying the caress of trade wind breezes, glorying in a spectacular sunrise, listening to nighttime tree frogs hand over chirping duties to daytime birds, and hearing lilting Bajan accents as my island came alive for another day. Perhaps absence truly does make the heart grow fonder, because I felt “it” come over me; an overwhelmingly potent mix of happiness and peace and a realization of how deeply Jim and I have come to love our “island in the sun”. It is an intrinsic part of us and our sons, a second home. “Oh Barbados, how I have missed you.”
Last December I contracted a viral infection, not COVID, but a viscous close cousin. In my lifetime, I do not ever remember being as ill. When you are barely able to breathe, when a walk from bed to the washroom saps every ounce of your strength, when your hemoglobin tanks, your liver enzymes sky rocket and your kidney function slows, I can personally attest to the fact, no matter how remote the chance, if you have a vivid imagination.......you are dying! Say it. I know. I wear the crown of a hypochondriacal drama Queen.
When I wasn’t sleeping which was rare, I was mentally composing letters to my children and grandchildren about my deep love and hopes for them. When I got to thinking about what travels I would miss, I stopped. Suddenly in my overly dramatic “I’m dying” state, I didn’t care about any destinations....anywhere; I only wished to return to Barbados and with my grandchildren, if possible.
A regular dose of travel dreaming is good for the soul; I have dreamed of returning since March, 2020. About a month ago, Air Canada began taking bookings for Barbados. Jim and I booked immediately. “Half way there”, we thought. Today, Matt called. OMG, he and Michelle, Morgan and Zachary are booked for Barbados next March. A second chance!
The words of my favourite song, “Beautiful Barbados”, never fail to touch my heart:
Beautiful, beautiful Barbados
Gem of the Caribbean Sea
Come back to my island, Barbados
Come back to my island and me.
Please come back where the night winds are blowing
Please come back to the surf and the sea
You’ll find rest, you’ll find peace in Barbados
Come back to my island and me.
OMG! Dreams do come true. We are going home!