Some people wonder how I continue to function after losing the love of my life. Some marvel at how “strong” I am. Still others think me to be callous or uncaring in “moving on” so “quickly”. [Note: I consider myself to be moving forward, not moving on; the first denotes positive motion while the second seems to indicate that I have left my former life behind. As nearly all widows, Middows© and widowers can attest, leaving the past behind is just about as opposite to what we’re doing as it could possibly be. We spend every day remembering our former life and missing the one we shared it with. And in my case, I have been without my husband for 13 months now. Expectant mothers grow an entire person inside themselves in less time, and they would tell you even 9 months can drag by. There has been nothing “quick” about my recovery.]
The truth is, I am none of these things. Or maybe I am all of these things and more. See… when my husband died, it basically left me with two choices – healing or hurting. Yes, I have done (and am doing) both. But so many people get stuck in the hurting part that it’s as if their life ended when they lost their spouses.
I completely get that! I understand the draw of simply calling it quits on life. You find yourself alone and untethered in a world that suddenly feels like Noah’s Ark with everyone else paired off. There are some people who, although they would never in a million years consider suicide as a way out, simply stop living. They merely exist.
Of course I want A back. I want time to reverse to where we walked hand-in-hand and
slept side-by-side. I long to go back to where we spent so much time together that we got on each other’s nerves. I want to return to life as I knew it, even if I was sheltered and oblivious about real loss. Do I wish I could go back and change things? Absolutely! I would willingly rub the genie’s lamp and go back to a time when I had blinders on and didn’t understand grief in the way I now feel it deep within my bones! (Well, maybe not exactly the way I was; I believe these difficult lessons have made me a more compassionate and understanding person, and I wouldn’t want to lose those parts of me now.)
But that isn’t going to happen, no matter how much I wish it, how badly I want it, or how often I daydream about my current life being merely a nightmare from which I haven’t yet awoken. So the only true choice I have is to choose life! To truly live, not merely survive. Although this is not the life I had chosen or planned, it is still my life and I intend to live it. The path I was on no longer looks the same. It has changed to an extent that to follow it would lead me somewhere I no longer have any place being, and it is my job now to find a new one.
There are so many things my husband and I talked about over the years, plans we made, things we wanted to do and accomplish when we achieved whatever level of success we deemed appropriate enough to finally allow ourselves the luxuries.
Travel has always been high on my list of desires, and aside from an incredible honeymoon, a handful of family vacations, and many “long weekends”, we really never took much time for ourselves. Having lived in four far flung states and numerous cities and towns through the years – often being asked if we were military, on the run from the law and/or in the Witness Protection Program, – I used to tease A that we couldn’t afford to travel, so we moved instead. Sort of like a series of extended vacations that were so costly we were forced to “do the dishes” in order to pay for our stay.
Although I’ve always dreamed of being a world traveler, my forays out of the country
thus far have been an overnight in Montreal with my senior class, and nearly 2 weeks at Christmastime in London, thanks to my teenage daughter’s friend who needed a chaperone on her 16th birthday gift/trip. (Imagine getting that phone call from her mother telling me she was unable to make the trip, and I would “have to” go in her place or our daughters wouldn’t be able to. Ugh… O… K… I’ll make the sacrifice. Can’t you just hear my eyes rolling? Yeah, right!)
The movie Eat, Pray, Love made me yearn for the resources and circumstances to pack up, travel the world and find myself. Under the Tuscan Sun had me believing I could buy a rambling old house in Italy and make it mine. Mamma Mia! sparked many a conversation with my husband about all the little Greek islands we wanted to explore.
There are literally dozens of locations on my travel wish list – many of them places here in the United States I haven’t yet visited – and I haven’t even begun to put a dent in it! They call this desire to travel wanderlust, which makes perfect sense to me, because I do truly lust for wandering. I have always felt the pull of unexplored destinations, even if it’s only me who hasn’t yet explored them.
This desire has even led me to research potential jobs as a travel companion, but those seem few and far between (or at least somewhat difficult to find online without the “companion” part of the equation having either medical or x-rated duties associated with it).
I have thrown it out into the Universe that if there is some wealthy, lonely globetrotter that is looking for a platonic travel partner, I’m available. Since that scenario is a bit of a long shot and I prefer not to sit back and just wish for things, I have begun making some generalized plans to start checking places off my list and am working on the best way to fund it all. If all goes well, within a few years, this blog may morph into one about how travel can help heal a heart after loss. Because I truly believe that’s exactly what will happen.
Maybe they should call it wander-healing instead…
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