As I stood in the shower for the second time today, under extremely hot water trying to shake the chills that I seemed to develop from Montezuma revenge, It hit me that this happens to me every time I go to any Latin culture, but it’s not going to stop me from going. My first couple times in Mexico were around age 21, they were only for a day but I am sure they didn’t end well. Fast forward to 2014. My hubby and I were invited to go with another couple to Cobo. I was excited to go to a resort, I had never been to one before. After 5 days or so, I became seriously ill. So ill my hosts gave up their room and took the guest room. We were supposed to go Parasailing and eat at the resort’s fancy restaurant. The group ended up jet skiing and eating somewhere without me. I attributed it to the melting ice in the ice tea at the spa where I got a free massage. The following year, we were invited again. This time we were making our own margaritas with fresh limes and my hubby was making eggs every morning. I was like a crazy person not even brushing my teeth with the sink water, but I left with only a slightly gurgling tummy by the time we got home. 2016 I went with my church on a Mexico mission trip with my daughter. I came prepared with everything you can imagine. We were in tents. I started watching the soldiers (teens) fall, mostly from dehydration. No one understanding that dehydration and food or water born bacteria look similar. (With a few key differences). If you catch dehydration right away, it doesn’t get that far. Pickle Juice people, it’s the answer to the beginning signs of it. Now if you get a fever, chills or vomiting it’s usually not dehydration depending on how long you might have been out in the weather not taking care of yourself. At the very end of the mission trip and eating the wonderful local food, I became pretty ill myself. I loaded up on the proper stuff and had a script for an antibiotic that I started. I only felt slightly ill for a day or so. Then last year in Peru, I also went with a script and al the over the counter stuff. After about a week there, I stood up in the morning, turned sheet white and next thing I knew I was taking two bags of fluid and starting my script. It didn’t take away from the experience, it just was part of it.
Today I sit in Mexico, after my world has been turned upside down contemplating getting ill at least once every time I visit Latin America. I cannot take a script ow since years of ear infections and acne meds along with my last two trips have me immune to a lot of antibiotics. I’m sitting on the porch chugging water loaded, up on the maximum doses of the over the counter stuff. I think about if I knew I was going to get ill would I still come? If I knew I was going to have moments of sadness would I still bother to leave? If I knew that my genetics were part of a very complicated story to why I would lose my daughter, would I still have children? Would I do most everything the same? The answer is yes.
Growing up one of my only memory of my biological father was visiting him in the VA hospital. My grandmother took me and he gave me handmade jewelry. That was one of the only gifts I’ve ever received from him besides the gift of my life. Growing up in the 60s there were not a lot of discussion of mental health issues, no one knew what to do with my brilliant minded, artist, musically inclined, destructive father. He was drafted and went to Vietnam. He eventually developed PTSD and schizophrenia.
I contemplate should my broken father have had me? I barely survived my birth, born at 7 months premature, with 3 kinds of pneumonia, then at three my leg was crushed so bad I spent 6 weeks in the hospital. Painting ceramic piece after ceramic piece while in traction while my mother hurried around me is my first memory. My father not working after Vietnam my mother worked multiple jobs. At one point my father gave me a soda to drink that turned out to be vodka, on another occasion I was nowhere to be found because I was spending all my time with the non-english speaking family in down the street in California, just running around at 3, with their family chasing ice cream trucks. To no ones knowledge. But I am thankful. I am here. My four beautiful and smart girls have struggled with mental health, it is an ongoing worry, knowing depression lurks at our door.
I’ve mentioned before I have been asked by a surgeon what would I have done different? To prevent the loss of my daughter? The truth is I do not know. I did the best I could do with the information and resources I had. She knew the depth of our love, and I do not regret anything. A better question might have been knowing the resources now, what might you have done different? and the truth again is not much. I might have tried to put my daughter in a better facility, I would have taught her peers what to look for, the warning signs of severe depression. These are the things I plan to devote my life to, but I will never know if it would have made a difference. What I do know is that she was loved beyond anyone’s comprehension and that I would’t change.
Sometimes the irony of Sleeping Beauty comes to mind. I do believe this thought might not be from me, maybe an answer in my prayers and meditations. She loved all the princesses, she dressed like snow-white multiple years in a row. She even went to preschool in the dress multiple times. When I had her graveside ceremony, she looked just like sleeping beauty, white dress, surrounded by white roses, flawless. Sleeping Beautie’s parents loved their daughter so much they burned all the spinning wheels to prevent her pricking her finger, finding the one antiquated spinning wheel, she pricks her finger anyway.
Should I still come to Mexico? I floated in the water yesterday reminded of our Hawaii family trip and I imagined my daughter laughing and acting like a little girl, so excited to see all the fish. My mask filled up with tears, but I felt the bittersweet memory and then continued on. Getting away someplace different from home has been healing for my husband and I. I still sit and look for angels among the clouds and smile tenderly at the blue heron that greeted my husband on our first day and the blackbirds serenading me at breakfast. As I sit here loaded up on immodium, I can tell you I wouldn’t change a thing.