As I write this, I'm sitting in a plane, flying from Los Angeles to New York. I'm back in the USA for Camp Widow East next weekend and decided to make a holiday off it, fulfilling a life-long dream of visiting the Big Apple.
This is my second trip to the states and again I find it very emotional to be here without Dan, as it reminds me of all the plans we made to travel together but never got the chance to see through.
New York has not only always been on my bucket list, but it was one of my husband's favourite places. He'd visited a number of times and had even spent a Christmas here with a mate, many years before we met.
Before he died, we'd planned a wonderful holiday to experience a New York Christmas together, which we had scheduled for 2013. He was so excited as he spoke about all the places he wanted to show me. Central Park, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, all the beautiful boroughs and neighbourhoods. This was one of the many dreams we didn't get to see through, because of his death.
Making this journey now without him is so very bittersweet. I miss him so much, I miss the excited glow he would get, I miss the twinkle in his eye, I miss being able to sit here and hold his hand and share such a special moment with him.
I can't help but feel like he's with me though. For example... I am not what you'd call a sports enthusiast. I don't hate sport, but I wouldn't exactly seek it out. However when the friend who I'm travelling with asked if I wanted to join her at the basketball or ice hockey during our visit, I thought it sounded like a fun thing to do. She ended up organising tickets to both, and then we realised we'd also be in the USA for Superbowl Sunday! So, that's three 'sporting events' that I will be viewing (the Superbowl we will only be watching from a bar somewhere, but still). Dan, the sports nut, MUST surely have pulled some strings to make that happen.
I like that I'm able to feel connected with him through places. I find myself wondering, did he walk down this street? Maybe he even sat in this taxi. I know for sure that he loved this country and if the spirits of our dearly departed really do get to stay with us and share in our happiness, he would be loving that I'm here, experiencing a city that is so dear to his heart.
Even though I'd chose my life with Dan over any alternative, I'm also very aware that I will have opportunities and experiences on this holiday that would not have been possible if he were still here with me.
I'm grateful that I will get to spend time with my friend (and fellow Widow's Voice writer) Kelley Lynn while I'm here. I didn't know any 'real new yorkers' before Dan died, but my world has been broadened significantly because I'm now part of the widowed community. I will then get to travel to Florida and see another dear friend Michele and make more new friends at Camp Widow.
It is so easy to dwell on what I am missing. I can't escape the fact that he should be here. But that loss is softened slightly on the days that I'm able to take a moment and think about what blessings have come in to my life, only because of the path that it has taken. A path I would never have chosen or wanted, a path I find myself on reluctantly. But, nevertheless, a path that still presents adventures and experiences that are waiting to be explored.
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