Things are coming to a close here in Tampa this morning. We expected it to feel exciting to return back here a year later… except this time, so many things have gone wrong. The pool at the hotel has been closed, creating some difficulty to finding quiet places to talk with fellow widows. On Friday, we looked at the time wrong and missed the alumni boat tour. Which was the one thing we were looking forward to the most. We went across downtown to eat at yesterday at Nathan’s Hotdogs, which has been a tradition since the first year for me, and it was randomly closed with no explanation. The hot water only half worked in our room on the first night. And there were a myriad of other small things. And yes, they are small things. The irony does not escape me that - while attending a conference for being widowed - we have been letting all the small things get to us in a big way. How quickly that comes back.
Being at camp as a new couple has a different feel too. I feel a heightened awareness that it could be painful for others to see us together, and thusly we have kept much affection on the down low. I still remember how painful it was to see new partnered people at my first camp, and I know that this could be hard for others too. So I guess I’ve been protective and overly concerned for that. It is made easier that we are both widowed, but I think I’ve allowed the stress of worrying about other’s feelings in quite a lot this time around.
And so, we both had expectations… pretty damn good ones, of what this camp was going to be like for us. And it hasn’t gone anything like the way we expected it to go. I think instead of remembering the lessons our grief has taught us so acutely, we decided to let it frustrate us that it wasn’t the version we wanted. And I guess that’s easy to do when you’ve been through so much and you just wanted a few days where things would unfold right.
I’ve had very little time to reflect on this until now. And the biggest thing I am thinking is how glad I should be that I’m even in a place now where the little things CAN bother me so much. There are plenty of people who showed up this weekend who are in a very different and much more raw place with their grief. People who cannot even begin to digest the small, stupid things that I’ve spent time frustrated over. In the end, none of those things do matter. Life is always going to throw us curve balls… and we aren’t immune to that while we are attending Camp Widow! And we aren’t going to get a pass on it just because we’re widowed now.
Life is going to keep throwing curve balls at us, big and small, and we have to remember the lessons our grief has taught us… to be agile. To adjust our expectations in order to be as happy as we are able to be with where we are at right now. To love ourselves even when life isn’t perfect, or happy, or going our way. To remember that when things do go wrong, there are still moments and people of value that will encounter while on the path we didn’t expect or want to ever find ourselves.