|Two widows in a convertible|
I just got home from a fun widow's trip to California. Just two young widowed women on the road, balancing carefree silliness with conversations about things most people our age never have to consider.
I can never fully prepare myself for the onslaught of sadness that is waiting for me back home.
As is true every time, arriving home after being away is a minefield of grief triggers for me. It's back to reality and a vivid reminder of who is missing in the crowd, waiting to greet me when I walk off the plane.
On the drive home, I was so lost in thought I missed my exit and had to drive nearly a half hour out of my way to get home.
I thought about why it feels so good to come back home after even the most wonderful trips.
It feels good because you're back in your comfort zone. That's your car with all your junk (in my case) scattered in the passenger seat. That's your route home you can (usually) drive with your eyes closed. That's your neighborhood, with the familiar people strolling down the sidewalks under those trees you have memorized from walking under them a million times. That's your pet greeting you, your bed that smells like you, your night sounds that settle into you and make you feel at ease enough to drift off.
What made me start to cry on the way home was that it dawned on me that although I did feel this way about my new home, it's Dave who was the person I felt that way about.
I had known him nearly half my life and stared into his eyes millions of times. I'd heard his voice over the phone and across the room so many times I knew it better than my own. I'd pressed my cheek against his chest so many times that I was sure there was a dent there shaped just like my profile. The shape of his hand in mine was something my skin had memorized. I'd known him intimately for so many years that no matter where I was, if he was near, I was home.
There is no one else on earth for whom I feel that way. I have known this all along, but it's almost as though I rediscover it every few months and it is able to sink into my psyche a little more each time.
I've learned that in order to keep myself from slowly drowning in the suction of a grief whirlpool I need to comfort myself, even if at first it feels hollow to do so.
So, I tell myself things. I tell myself that I will feel that way again. Maybe not that exact way, but I will, some day, feel at peace. I will feel a level of comfort and intimacy with another human being again. Maybe, if all my hard work pays off, I'll feel that way with myself, too.
So, after I took my little grief detour (literally and figuratively) I began to quell the tears and think of the life spread before me.
While on the trip I had a moment, overlooking elephant seals sprawled out in the sand in Big Sur, when I realigned with what I knew to be my greatest passion - wildlife. I told myself right then that I'd go back to school to get a degree in zoology. I told myself I'd do it even though I wasn't yet sure of anything else.
|Elephant seals on the beach at Big Sur, California|
So, I have that to plot and dream about. I have today. Every day I wake up is a good day, because I can try again.
I'll always grieve the loss of my comfort zone in the form of a quiet, steadfast man named Dave who loved me till the ends of this world, but every day I get to be here, I get to make my new dreams come true. Hopefully, one of them will be a career in wildlife and the other will be a new but different comfort zone.