Recently, a widowed person told me I am a “Bad Ass”. She said this in relation to what she views as my bravery and courage. I assure you, I do not view myself as particularly brave or courageous. I feel like an ordinary, if not slightly disorientated and haggard, middle aged woman. Sure, I know that I am capable of tough stuff. Mike's death has assured me of this; but, all this aside, I am just a normal woman who has been forced to navigate some big challenges in her lifetime.
If the past is a predictor of the future, then I know that I should be okay. In my life, I have managed to be successful in most of my endeavours because of my hard work and consistent effort. Even prior to being Mike's widow, I had to exercise my tenacity. I've lived long enough that I have field tested my fortitude on several occasions and the results have usually been favorable. I know I can adapt to the curveballs life throws me. Still, none of this qualifies me as a Bad Ass. Or does it?
I have witnessed the strength of the human spirit. I've stood in awe of ordinary people who have survived very difficult things because they simply must. These people were somehow able to shed their regular run of the mill "strongness" for something extraordinary. They adapted because their survival demanded it. These people traded ordinary for extraordinary because it was required of them. They cloaked themselves in superhuman strength because all human beings have a strong desire to live forward in spite of the awful things that can happen during the course of a lifetime.
Grief requires ordinary people like us to dig deep. And, when we are tired and think that we can not continue a moment longer, grief forces us to dig even deeper. Grief demands that we find our super power again and again and again. As widowed people, we flex our inner Bad Ass every day.
Recently, in an online group, we were discussing solo travel. A group member mentioned that she thought I was a "Bad Ass" because I went to Europe with Heather this summer and we drank whiskey on a train in Ireland. Huh? I just thought I was drinking whiskey on a train in Ireland. I never gave it any real thought past that. I certainly didn't feel Bad Ass. But, I did feel happy while I was abroad; and, in widowhood, that in and of itself is pretty Bad Ass.
My good friend Robyn has done a lot of solo travelling in her life and I admire her for her wanderlust spirit. She has travelled to a few different continents since her husband died. She has been to Nepal hiking with her daughter, alone she has walked the El Camino (on my bucket list), and this winter she has gone diving in the Red Sea; and as I type this she is off to the Galapagos Islands. This woman is a true adventurer and Robyn is one of widow heroines.
A member of our online travel group marvelled at how we have travelled without our spouses. She was impressed that we could do this without "crumbling". I assured her that we do come undone at times; however, like true wanderlusts, our recovery period is relatively short and our impulse to salvage the trip is always strong. Our perseverance is simply on the ready. And, a moxie lives inside us that allows us to be resilient without seemingly much force.
You might be wondering, how does one become a Bad Ass widowed traveller? Well, I think you just do it. You do your research. You figure out the logistics. You book the trip. That's what Heather and I did. We spent many lunch hours and evenings emailing one another possible tours and hotel and Airbnb choices. Together, we made decisions and then we bought the tickets and we went.
Heather and I on the Seine river cruising towards the Eiffel Tower ~ July 2019
Our trip abroad was fabulous and I yearn to return to Europe. But, not all trips need be far away to satisfy your wanderlust. You can travel by car or by train. You can take day trips locally. Travel, like life, is as easy or as complicated as you want to make it. Sure, travel is not always smooth. Things don't always go according to plan. Often, you need to adapt and change course in response to something unplanned. As widowed people, we are masters at this. We live a changed and alternate life every single day. We know how to adapt to a changes. Daily, we make something hard look relatively easy. But, rest assure, travelling and widowing is not easy for any of us - even us Bad Asses - but we do it anyhow.
I know that I am built with grit. Heather is too; and, from what I have come to know, Robyn is also a gritty gal. This is simply how we are all wired. This does not make us brave or strong. This is just our natural spirit. All three of us have a strong desire to seek joy. And, we still love life, in spite of the mess we have been forced to recreate our lives in. We want to see the world; and, yes, dammit, we wanted to travel the world that with our men John, Ritch and Mike. But, these three wonderful men died. So, here we are, living life without them. It is hard. It is not fair. And, it is far from easy, but there is nothing else can we do.
And, yes, like all widowed people, the three of us do "crumble" once in a while like everyone else; however, our instinct to adapt and change to meet the needs of the situation is well developed. And, with practice, everyone can exercise and better develop their moxie.
I'm certain that there is a little “Bad Ass” in all of you reading this,