Confession: I am not fun when hungry. When my hunger sets in I get a headache, become weak, and I'm grumpy! I can't hide my hunger well, and David knew this better than anyone. The moment I became difficult he'd ask, "Have you eaten today?" "No." His action? Drop everything and get my wife some food! David always prevented my "hunger monster" from showing it's face. Thinking of this makes me smile, because I know no one takes better care of me than he does.
This week, I found myself... you guessed it... hungry! I had an hour before my appointment, I had just spent the last 20 minutes searching for parking and my headache started to kick in. My choices? Get food and take it back to my car (I've done this many times) or eat in the restaurant... alone. It was almost 15 months ago when the first thought of being the "lonely-looking lady, eating alone" entered my mind. I refused the thought then, but now? I was actually considering it! I've conquered grocery store shopping and cooking a meal for one... but eating out? Ugh. I could feel the lump in my throat swell, my headache grow, and my energy lessen. I have to eat. "Today's the day," I challenged myself.
While placing my order I began to create my plan of action- sit outside in the patio because there are less tables. Less tables meant less people. Less people meant less eyes which, of course, meant less staring. Finally, my food came and it was official... I began my first meal alone in public. All of a sudden, all eyes were on me! The spotlight was focused on me! And everyone waited for my next move ...or so I assumed.
What's better? To act as if you eat out alone all the time and it's no big thing or act as if at any moment your company is about to join you? I don't know. I'm pretty sure I did both. I pulled myself together and looked around. No one was watching. No one cared. I was sitting at a table for two and they didn't even blink an eye. Calmly, I began to eat my meal. "Why did you leave me here," I said to David. I tried to take each bite with purpose, hoping I would appear less insecure. I picked up my phone... checked my email... looked at my twitter account. Before I knew it... it was like my dad had let go of the bike before I had the chance to realize I was riding it on my own. I was doing it! Eating. Alone. I took a deep breath, "You're almost done."
(My phone rang) My eyes got big with excitement, "Woo-who! I'm being rescued!!...No. Nicole, don't answer. No cheating. You must do this alone."
(Voicemail) "Listening to the voicemail isn't cheating..." I convinced myself as I brought the phone to my ear.
"Nooo!" It was a new widow... one I had been worried about. Never having heard the voice of another widow before, I knew calling me was a challenge for her in itself. And I just let it ring! Before her voicemail could finish playing my phone died. "Crap!" I stuffed what I could in my mouth, left the rest behind and began a quick pace back to the car. I had to plug in my phone and at least tell her I'm out of battery before my appointment begins in 9 minutes!
As I hustled my way to the car, it hit me... As I faced my apprehension, a widow clear across the country was also overcoming hers. She made her first call to another widow. And I knew in that moment what David would say as he'd give me his patient smile, "Oh, My Love... but you are not alone." I closed my eyes briefly as if to inhale it all in... I am not alone.