the most important part
of the journey
is just deciding to go.”
I read this quote the other day in a book and I liked it. I tend to spend too much time overthinking things and not enough time just doing them. So this was refreshing to read. But it also got me thinking about widowhood, and decisions. And how much of the difficulty about loss in general is the lack of control we have. The fact that there are usually so many decisions that we either did not get to make, or never wanted to have to make. It really has a whole lot of different meanings depending on where you’re coming from.
Most of all, though, this quote makes me think back to on the different journeys that I am glad I did decide to go on. Of how glad I am I decided to date that cocky, goofy pilot. Even though I knew his work was dangerous and he could someday die doing it - which of course he did. Even though I’d been in an abusive relationship before him, and I was scared to get close to anyone again. Even though it all felt terribly scary, and I tried to run away from it, eventually I just decided to go on that journey with him. And once I decided, everything else was the most incredible ride. He changed my whole view of men, and of love, and of myself in the best of ways. And even though he did die, the changes he made in my life did not. That decision changed who I was forever - so he has never left me.
I am glad I decided to leave the city we lived in together, and leave my career, and leave all my friends behind. Even though that was hard too… I just knew, after he was gone, I couldn’t be there without him. I knew I had to decide to just go. And take some new chances. And yet again, once I made the decision, things fell into place to help it happen. His family supported me through it all, and I made new friendships and grew as a person in ways I never would have had I not decided to go.
And then I met Mike, 4 years ago this week actually. I knew within that very first meeting that if I decided to keep knowing this man, he was going to change my entire life all over again - just like Drew had. It was scary for sure, because I didn’t really feel ready for so much change. But I decided to go, and things unfolded. And here we are four years later… miraculously carving out a new life in the aftermath of losing both our partners. On a journey of firsts together, trying to figure out what it means to be in love again and also love the ones we’ve lost. And deciding each day what that means for us, and what we want to create this new love to be.
All of the best parts of my life have always been the results of those moments I decided to just go. And sure, they have also led to an unfathomable amount of pain sometimes… but isn’t that life? We aren’t owed easy. We aren’t owed a perfectly happy, painless life. We aren’t owed anything at all really. I realize that’s not everyone’s favorite thing to hear, but it’s true. It's not the whole story though...
The rest of the story is that we get to decide. It is up to us to decide to go on journeys that are worth having even if they lead us into pain. It is up to us to decide what to do with the pain in our lives, too. Ultimately, in the midst of widowhood we often feel like we have no choices at all… that this thing has been decided for us and we’re powerless now. But it's not true.
Personally, the most empowering moments of my life have happened in the midst of my widowhood - when I have decided to go on new journeys and do things I never imagined I would do… despite how broken I was. When I decided not to let other people's definition of my widowhood define me. Those are the moments that have taught me that I am still here, that we are all incredibly strong people, and that I have choices. That I get to create my widowed life to be whatever I want it to be. That just because this horrific thing happened, doesn’t mean I can’t still experience some joy. That just because he died does not mean that I have to stop loving him. Or talking about him. Or embracing him as part of the very fabric of my being. And just because I love someone new does not mean I have to pack up my other person and put him away.
Both times I have decided to go on the journey of love have been some of the best decisions of my life. Deciding to go on the journey of creating my own widowhood story has been just as meaningful though. It has taught me that no matter what pain I endure in life, no matter how many choices I am robbed of… I always have the power to decide who I will be, how my loved one will be with me, and what I will do with what’s left.
This simple quote was such a great reminder to me of just how empowering decisions can be.