I had a week off from Widowed Voice last Saturday (thanks for covering for me Michele!) because I was away on holidays with my sister, visiting the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii.
This was my first trip to Hawaii, I place where my husband Dan had spent a lot of holidays with friends and had spoken of with great fondness.
Travelling, experiencing different places and meeting people of different cultures was very important to both of us and we had both travelled extensively, separately, before we met.
We’d both lived overseas, myself in London and Dan in Canada and America. However while I’d spent a great deal of time in the UK and Europe, I’d never visited the USA until after Dan died. Once he was gone, continuing our love of travel – in particular to destinations that were special for him – has been an important and significant part of my healing process and often makes me feel closer to him.
I can imagine his excitement that I’m discovering a new place and feel his energy around me, protecting me, when I’m away from our home. Travelling has also helped me learn how to feel happiness again during what has been the darkest time in my life.
Some days, when the pain of missing Dan is at its fiercest, it’s easy to feel so consumed by the grief that I forget there is a whole world going on outside my house that I’m not participating in. Travelling takes me out of my little bubble of existence and reminds me that I’m merely a speck of life on this great planet.
Here’s the kicker though, I still ache for him, even when I’m swimming in a new ocean or basking in the sunset on a new horizon or walking the streets of a new city. In fact, I realised on this latest trip that travelling actually makes me miss Dan more. It’s very bitter-sweet.
In the routine of home, the missing of him has a way of settling quietly in the background, for the majority of the time anyway (it still knocks me off my feet regularly but not every single day, as it did in the first year or so). His absence has become the norm now, after two years and three months, and I’m sturdier on my feet as I go about my day. It’s always there, the sadness, but I carry it with a strength that the passing of time has given me – like a seasoned athlete who’s body has become conditioned to competing in an endurance sport.
However when the terrain changes, the routine is broken and I find myself in these beautiful places, feeling the sharpness of the life I’m still living... the sadness comes in harder. Every time. It hurts, as I breathe the air of a new city – a city that I wish he was exploring with me.
The loss of the man I love, the man I thought I’d spend the rest of my days with, pulls heavily on my heart, even as it’s swelling with the joy of being on a holiday in a beautiful location.
I have to make financial sacrifices in other areas of my life in order to afford the holidays that I take, but they have been worth it because they remind me that I’m still alive, I didn’t die with Dan.
And every time I board a plane and step onto the tarmac in a new location, I’m creating a memory and an experience that forces me to acknowledge that my life is going on, without him, whether I like it or not.