||Trigger: an act or event that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions.
My friend, Nancy, warned me about triggers while I was in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, two weeks ago with my kids, having last been in the tropical location with Verna in 2008 for an amazing vacation as we lounged alongside the crystal clear Sea of Cortes, toured the artist colony in Todos Santos, snorkeled in the Pacific, and cruised on the ocean at sunset.
When Maya, Miguel, and I made it to the resort pool at 6 PM on Friday, June 13, in the unseasonably humid desert air, and I saw the swim-up bar, I remembered how in 2008 Verna enjoyed returning to the resort by late afternoon because the drinks were two-for-one. But I was still in dad zone, just frolicking in the water to stay cooler.A few days later, as Maya and I jumped into the refreshing waters at the Medano Beach, towards Cabo San Lucas, and I vividly recalled trekking two-and-a-half miles there with Verna, I felt the first real pangs of sadness. A smile was stretched across Maya’s face, similar to the one I saw when Verna first splashed in the green-purple-blue water, as Maya and I played in the same harbor at virtually the same spot next to jet skis and parasailing.
Cabo, for Verna and me, had been wacky beach-drinking games and Verna dancing (sober) on a table in a nightclub—the Giggling Marlin—in a bizarre and slightly choreographed competition of women, and sitting in the lobby of the real Hotel California and later writing our names in honor of our 17th wedding anniversary on the wall of the restaurant across the street, Tequila Sunrise.
Cabo, for me with the kids, was relaxing by the pool and watching World Cup soccer with real soccer fans and swimming with dolphins, and riding ATVs with Maya and Miguel over sand dunes and twisty trails, and playing nearly 18 holes of golf with Miguel on Father’s Day in 95 degree weather. And Cabo was also about Verna, remembering her there in 2008, so happy, so sexy, so peaceful, so alive.
On our last night in Cabo, at the Grand Mayan, as Maya was sleeping over with a family we’d met from Woodside, CA, only an hour from San Rafael, and Miguel was in the room watching sports or a movie, I headed back from the lobby after closing out our account. The whole week had been about triggers. But it was OK. I started talking to Verna, the stars shimmering above, and I told her how I missed her and how I’d never forget her and how I cherished our Cabo adventure.
I hope she was listening.
Steven Friedman was widowed in 2010 and has two children. He is working on a memoir about his family’s cancer journey, ‘It’s Not About the Breasts’.