So, Sarah wrote last week about my leaving for a work trip. It was the first time I have done so since we’ve met. Sure, I’ve left for a day or two here and there to go backpacking, but being required by my job to board a jet to Chicago for three days is, quite obviously, a bit more of a trigger for her. Especially when it’s a trigger she hasn’t experienced in the seven years since Drew’s death on a work trip.
I get it. I know it sucked for her for me to be gone (for the record, I’m home safe and sound), but I can never feel what she feels. She’s in New York, visiting her sister for the past few days. While I miss her, and want to make sure she’s safe, it’s not and never has been a “please don’t die” issue for me.
Here’s the thing. I didn’t have a sudden loss. What I had was long expected. Megan’s death took years. If I was going to have a trigger or anxiety, it would likely be more when Sarah is sick or, god forbid, hospitalized for any reason. Just a little 6 hour drive to New York? That’s simply not a trigger for me.
I suppose if I wasn’t a part of this community that I may see her anxiety about me flying for work as “a little crazy”. Why should she be so worried about a Monday through Thursday trip, with a flight of less than 45 minutes? It’s not like I’m jumping out of the plane and parachuting to my temporary place of business.
It could be so much worse for her. I could still be an active Marine, leaving for months, across the world, in hostile locations. It could be my civilian job when I met Megan, where I flew to places like Hong Kong, Singapore, and London, for 10 days at a time, 12 hours apart.
I understand why a new partner of a widow could see said widow’s anxiety as over-worrying or, shall we say, “nuts”. But understanding and believing are two different things. I KNEW that this trip was going to be a trigger for Sarah. I tried to do everything, short of quitting my job, to assuage her fears. I texted or called her at every turn. When I boarded, when I landed, when I picked up my rental car, and when I got to my hotel. She received a “good night” call when I went to bed, and a “good morning” text when I safely awoke in the morning. I made a concerted effort to ensure that she always knew where I was, and the status of my heartbeat.
Maybe I’m the one who is nuts. I could be setting her up for worse anxiety, should I ever travel again and my phone dies. Then again, I could just be busy. The point is, I don’t ever want to have to put her through an unanswered text. I should hope that the partner of any widow understands that.