Silverwood Theme Park. One of my favourite childhood vacation spots. I was lucky to have parents that would invite my childhood best friend for our US vacations, and camping trips. This vacation was the basis for several books we wrote as children and a new song I won’t put in print(it had to do with bodily functions) to avoid offending anyone(yes, we were both creative, funny and somewhat disgusting children!) Needless to say, it was a great time and a favourite memory for both myself and my best friend.
So much so we met there on May long weekend so our own children could experience it. We cheated however; we hotelled and only spent three days, but it was still an exciting and memorable experience for all of us.
At the end of the last day my friend, her husband and I decided to take a chance on the adult rides. Opting out of the wooden coasters due to anxiety and a fear of hieghts, I waited with the kids while her and her husband took a turn screaming over curves and swoops.
I chose the corkscrew. It wasn’t as high, was made of sturdier material, and though it went fast, it was over quick too. We sat in our seats, chattering away about life when the safety instructions interrupted and rudely reminded me of what I was about to experience.
The yellow, dank smelling safety harness clasped tightly over my shoulders.
I looked at my best friend in fear. “I think I made a mistake”.
The coaster released and turned a corner bringing us to the steep climb before we plummeted down into a sharp turn and quickly headed through two loop de loops that I suddenly realized appeared much larger and higher from on the ride then on the ground.
I fought against the first turn. As the cart turned right and started to tip us over, I fought instinctively to stay upright. I grasped unto my my harness so hard I jammed my arm between the cart and the safety structure. My neck muscles hurt from trying to veer left when the ride was clearly going right and I had already screamed every curse word at the top of my lungs (including names of private parts?! I swear I had a mini seizure..) that my throat was burning. I was fighting something that I had no control over. I quickly learned my lesson.
The second loop was easier; still scary but with less suffering. Yes, partially because of the speed! But also because I leaned it to it. I took a breath, let go and went with the ride.
It was the first and last adult ride of the day….my neck and arm were wrecked and my bestie – well she hurled.
The weekend was a much needed escape from our busy scheduled lives. We slept in, stayed up later, and ate yummy, unhealthy carnival food. We connected with our friends and with each other. I can’t say one bad thing about the weekend – Even with the massive bruise on my arm.
The adrenaline rush lasted into the evening. After dinner, on the ride home though it hit me. It was a great, fantastic and amazing day.. and I wished he was here. I wanted to talk to him and tell him about how much fun we had.
He would’ve hated it, he didn’t like the large crowds, heat and rides. But he would’ve loved seeing us smile.
The familiar sinking feeling in my stomach and chest came on strong. I wrapped my arm around our daughter as she sunk into my side while watching The Lego Movie on our way home.
The next day our daughter had a similar experience. She talked about the weekend and how awesome it was and a sudden look of sadness washed over her face over breakfast. “I wish he could have been here mom.”
On the 6 hour drive home, I thought a lot about the last year. The waves of grief, the fighting the pain, the trying to get through each day minute by minute sometimes. In her booksDaring Greatly and the Gifts of Imperfections, Brene Brown talks about leaning into vulnerability; grief to me is perhaps the most vulnerable a person can be.
And just like the roller coaster ride that is grief and life, it’s easier if you lean into the turns and loop de loops to avoid suffering more. I know, I still have the bruise on my arm to prove it.