This week, I have found myself questioning what I am doing here, in England, several thousand miles from the country of my birth. I came to the UK in 2009, on my own, to work in Social Work, and I met Stan a year and a half after I moved to London. I was working in a difficult, stressful job in south London, when we met, and had considered returning to the US after my three year contract was finished.

Although I loved the UK, I felt very much alone in my new environment, and spent the majority of my time on my own. I had made some friends in the Buddhist Centre, where I attended meditation and yoga classes, and I had some work colleagues that could loosely be considered friends. But, for the most part, I was alone in a giant city with only my books, writing, and internet for company. 

Then I met Stan and we fell in love and my life shifted on its axis. He brought me a whole new world. He shared his rich and colourful life with me. We travelled together throughout the UK, he showed me all his favourite places, and we discovered a few new ones, together. Our relationship deepened, and we married, and I moved to the wild and beautiful northern moors with him. 

And then he died, 18 months after our wedding. In the year since his death, I have worked hard to put down roots in this place my husband loved, and I have tried to make this my home. 

But sometimes I long for the known world of the US, where my son and his girlfriend live, where my old friends and close family are only a short drive or a short flight away. Sometimes I want to be in a place where I have a history, and people who know me, a place that feels familiar and safe. 

I have lived many places, in my life, from Indiana to Montana to San Francisco to Florida, and in each of them, I have felt set apart. I have made friends and had relationships and I have worked and studied, and I have involved myself in politics and spiritual groups. But nowhere have I ever felt at home. Here, with Stan, for the first time in my life, I felt sure that I was where I belonged.

But he's not with me, now, and I wonder, sometimes, if this village in the north of England is truly where I am meant to be. I have work and a house and activities to keep me busy, most days, but time stretches out before me, and the road feels long, and arduous, and empty, without him.

Perhaps I would feel that way, no matter what. Perhaps this is just another layer of my grief, this feeling rootless, and at odds with myself. Perhaps I need to sit with these feelings, and see what comes, rather than flee from them. I have spent my entire life in flight, from one place to another, different climates and cities and surroundings, running from previous circumstances and sorrows, in a relentless effort to find a home, somewhere. Somewhere I fit. Perhaps that place does not exist. 

Stan and I were a good fit. We could rely on each other, and we were the best of friends. Our time together was so brief that I barely had time to settle in. Without him, I feel lost at sea, wavering to and fro, without an anchor, rootless, once again. 

It has been a difficult week. This grief journey is not a straight path to some mythical end. There are steps forward and leaps backward. There are bucket loads of sorrow followed by snippets of joy. It is all so exhausting and perplexing and sometimes I just want to be free of it.

But I am here, today, in this home we shared, with my feet set upon the ground. And I may move, sometime in the future, but I won't be able to outrun this loss. He gave me roots, brought me comfort, and made me feel at home. It is no wonder that I feel wobbly and uncertain without him. 

For now, I am here. And I will do my best to put down roots, though he is not here to help me, and without him, I am so afraid. I'll keep stepping my feet upon this path, placing one foot in front of the other. I'll keep trying to reach out, to find beauty, to strengthen relationships, to breathe deeply, to make this place my home. 





Showing 9 reactions

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  • Joanna Lucas
    commented 2015-08-04 13:34:15 -0700
    Thank you for that beautiful post! It speaks to me on so many level! My story is very similar and you put into words all I have been feeling since 4/10/15 when Toby passed away. We moved to Dallas in July 2014, it was supposed to be our shared discovery of what city offers: restaurants, hiking spots and exploring TX altogether. Instead, what was supposed to be new and exciting became new but terrible, depressing and awful! I feel lonely, sad and like I live some strange life! I thought that maybe I should go back to VA or even Poland where I am originally from, but instead, just like you, I am here for the time being, trying to find new normal!
  • Tricia E. Bratton
    commented 2015-08-03 23:47:30 -0700
    Thank you all for your comments. It helps to know I am not alone in feeling ‘homeless’, as I do. I look around, here, and I see people with families and couples hand in hand, and I begin to think that I am the only one who is alone, on my own. I know that is not true, but sometimes it feels that way. My comforter is gone, and I can’t bring him back, and I guess the task at hand now is to learn how to comfort and soothe and nurture myself. Because there is no one else to rely on to do it.
  • Stephanie Vendrell
    commented 2015-08-03 20:21:58 -0700
    Yes – yet again we mirror each other. I have been working on such similar thoughts this week, Tricia. But I agree – we cannot outrun our losses. That is an important point. Thank you.
  • Jane White
    commented 2015-08-03 19:31:18 -0700
    Tricia – lately I struggle with similar questions. Ten years ago I moved across country to the Southwest to fulfill a dream for my husband. Now that he is no longer here with me I often wonder what I am doing here. My family and close friends all live on the East Coast. But I own a home here and have a job I love. What makes sense financially, emotionally? Difficult questions, indeed. Right now I will sit with it for awhile and wait for the answers to come to me. Jane
  • JoAnne Allen
    commented 2015-08-03 18:43:52 -0700
    My late husband had a delightfully droll sense of humor and one of his favorite sayings was “no matter where you go, there you are…” I always appreciated that reminder. I ran away from things for years…until I met him. It was like gravity—I orbited around him like the moon around the earth. We danced together in space bound to each other with an unbreakable bond. I’ve learned to live adrift since he died. I’ve grown comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  • Allison Sellinger
    commented 2015-08-03 18:02:33 -0700
    how do i share my story
  • DebraMarrs
    commented 2015-08-03 12:24:06 -0700
    Thanks for putting words to some things I’ve been pondering recently too, Tricia. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this time without Stan as your companion, confidant, and co-creator of the wonderful world as you had imagined together.

    I wonder so often where “my home” is. Questions such as where do I belong? Who do I belong with? Why is it a place vs. a state of being? If I change places, what will change? Perhaps we need change in order to thrive? Perhaps when we move from one place to another, we move through chaos into fresh vision of things, and that’s what creates the possibility of a new state of being: new friends, work, abode, and fresh perspectives that come with settling in again? I have no answers. Only more questions. Perhaps we all need others to dialogue with. And right now, I’m feeling you and I have just done that. Even if for a minute. I thank you for creating the space to do so.
  • DebraMarrs
    followed this page 2015-08-03 12:24:00 -0700
  • Stella Clare
    commented 2015-08-03 10:43:14 -0700
    This made me feel so sad for you Tricia. Hope to see you soon xxx