Next week is March Break for me. I’m going on a cruise with a good friend. I know, I am fortunate to be able to go on a cruise. I’ll be in the sun and heat and it will be fun. I am excited! I am also not though. It seems that I can’t just experience the normal one emotion of excitement for a trip. That in itself is frustrating. There always has to be something else mixed in there complicating things for me. A little bit of nervousness, memories, sadness, and guilt complicate my happiness.
Some of my mix of emotions starts with the fact that I’m going on vacation with a friend and not Mike. Don’t get me wrong, this friend is absolutely amazing and I am excited to vacation with her. She has been an amazing support right from the start and I love her. However, she is not Mike. I will be looking at many other happy, vacationing couples in love and missing my husband. I miss my vacations with him and that time together. If we were still married, one of those happy couples might have been us. If he were still here then we might be going on a cruise together. In fact, one of the best vacations I’ve had was a cruise with Mike. We both loved it and raved about it for a long time.
That is my next fear; the last cruise I went on was with Mike and I’m worried about triggers I might face. Will it be very similar? They are both Caribbean cruises but different islands. Will I be be thinking of our cruise a lot and be comparing them? Will I be able to deal with the triggers, if they appear? My usual travels are more active and adventurous and this one will be a lot of rest. I don’t do rest. It is too much idle time to think. I can fit enough thinking into my daily life as it is. I don’t want to have a grief wave while I am on vacation. I want to be able to enjoy. I feel frustrated that I even think of this to begin with. However, while I can physically change my location and have a vacation there is really no vacation from grief. It follows me wherever I go. Maybe it distracts at points but it doesn’t go away. I just want to be able to handle it.
I also feel guilty. I know your reaction is probably that I shouldn’t. I know I shouldn’t; I am not doing anything wrong. That feeling just sticks there though. I feel guilty that I get to go on vacation and enjoy life while he is dead. I want him to be able to enjoy life too. I feel guilty for the trips I took without him while he was alive and we were together. I feel bad that he missed out then and I feel that bad he’s missing out now. I feel guilty that the reason I’m able to go on vacation (and often) is because he died. Not that it has stopped me from traveling- in the past (under) 2 years I’ve gone to Ireland, Iceland, Quebec (twice), Chicago, British Columbia (twice), Alberta, and Croatia. They have all been great trips but the feelings were always there. I mostly don’t care what people think but I sometimes wonder if others see my travels and think I am so lucky. But I would trade any of those trips to sit on the couch next to Mike just talking.
Lastly, I feel guilty for feeling bad. I feel like I should only feel happy to go on vacation, like a normal person, because I am fortunate but I just don't. People ask what my plans are and I tell them I’m going on a cruise and they are so excited for me. I don’t know if it has to do with the fact that I’m a widow still trying to live or if it’s just because it’s a vacation. I try to smile but there is so much going on behind that. I want to be more into the excitement of a trip. I really do. I use to be like that. I use to plan all the details of a trip. Now, I can’t even remember what islands we are visiting no matter how many times I look at the list and people ask me. It frustrates me. My friend planned the trip. Granted, this one is less to plan than a more open trip to a different country but there is still planning and she did it all. She asked me questions and I answered. I am literally just going. I haven’t even packed yet.
I know I will have fun on this trip just like I have on other trips. I know I will enjoy my friend’s company and we’ll build memories to laugh about later. I’m not looking for anyone to feel sorry for me because “boohoo, hard life, going on vacation” but instead just to understand my thinking. That happiness maybe isn’t an all-encompassing thing but its still there mixed in with other thoughts. I just hope that the happiness outweighs any of the negative feelings. I am looking forward to the break. I need it. It’s just a bit complicated.