Fjii Overwater Bungalow

Traveling to Cope with Child Loss (Part 3 - Fiji)

Bula bula! It’s the Fijian greeting for “hello,” which also means “life” and “good health.”


Fiji is a set of islands in the South Pacific, near to New Zealand and Australia.


We had been planning to visit Fiji for a future milestone birthday or anniversary and planned to bring our son, Travis Jr., with us. However, Travis Jr.’s death propelled us to visit sooner; his death presented a keener understanding of the fact that the planned future wasn’t guaranteed.


After an 11-hour flight from San Francisco, we arrived at the small Fijian airport in the early morning. The tropical surroundings felt reminiscent of the Caribbean.


The drive from the airport to the resort displayed beautiful palm trees, luscious grass, and mighty mountains. Our driver pulled over so we could snap a picture of a scenic overlook as the sun rose. 


The resort staff warmly greeted us when we pulled in: “Bula bula!”


Our hostess sat us down at her desk to check us in and kindly asked what brought us to Fiji. Off the top of our heads, we said it was a “celebration of life” trip.


Our son had recently died, and we wanted to take a big trip to celebrate life. To celebrate the fact that our son once lived. To celebrate the fact that we were still alive.


We didn’t need to wait for a typical milestone occasion to enjoy life and do fun, adventurous things. The fact that we had breath in our lungs was enough of a reason to travel and celebrate.


The hostess nodded her head, silently and respectfully. Then she got up and went to the back office to process our check-in.


When she returned, she shared that she’d upgraded our already luxurious beachfront accommodations to the best that they had - an overwater bungalow.


It was a thoughtful gift to honor our son.


Then, she opened up with us. She shared that she had also lost a child. Her daughter, Grace, had died nine months after birth.


Wow. Of all the people who could have checked us in - and there were several present at the time - we were paired with the one with whom we shared the sad reality of the death of a child.


What a divine encounter!


We had spontaneously mentioned our son’s death to this stranger because Travis Jr. was ever-present on our hearts and minds. And, not by chance, we were connected with someone who shared a similar experience all the way on the other side of the world. We had traveled alone and were far away from anyone we knew, but God reminded us that we were not alone in our experience.


Every time we saw our hostess for the duration of our stay, we greeted her with a warm “bula bula!” Every time we saw her, we were reminded of our deep connection. We were reminded of the bond between Baby Grace and Baby Travis Jr. These children were gone from us physically, but they would never be forgotten. 

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