Well here I am at Camp Widow in beautiful Tampa. Today I attended round table discussions on 'being widowed by suicide', 'being widowed without the chance to have children' and 'signs and synchronicity'. I met some wonderful, inspiring people and told my story a couple of times. And I didn't cry once.
This last point is making me feel VERY uncomfortable. How come I'm not a teary hot mess right now? While I participated in these sessions and engaged with others, I was able to talk about my grief almost calmly, as if I had made my peace with it. As if this is all something that happened to me a lifetime ago. Or as if I was telling someone else's story.
Right now I'm trying not to judge the way I'm feeling or force myself to 'be' a certain way, but I can't help but wonder ... where is the pain? Am I heading towards a bad grief crash? Surely it's coming. I mean, it always comes, doesn't it.
I arrived in Tampa on Thursday night, fresh from a wonderful week in New York and firmly in holiday mode. I'd wandered around the city that I had planned to explore with my husband, seeing the sights that he'd spoken about from his previous trips and wishing he were by my side. But I had fun. The ache for him felt almost... compartmentalised. As if my brain had packaged up my grief in to a neat little box and stored it on a shelf in the back of my mind so that it didn't mess up my holiday.
It's still there, I can touch it but it's almost like I'm opting to let it sit there for now, rather than bringing it down and unpacking it again. I know I have to at some point. One thing is for certain, that grief can't be left in that box on the shelf. It needs to be aired and sorted through regularly so that it doesn't fester and get stale.
The box may come tumbling down this evening at the welcome reception (I'm writing this quickly in my room before I head out again). It may burst open during a workshop or presentation tomorrow or the flood gates might come undone on the flight home to Australia, when my brain starts to slow and think about returning to the life I have there without him. Who knows.
For now, I am trying to enjoy the moment of peace and the company of the wonderful people here at Camp Widow.
If you're here and we haven't met yet, please find me and say hello. I'm the tall one with the accent.