So many of the adjustments we face as widows are about handling a multitude of responsibilities alone: living on a single income, making home and car repairs, raising children. All serious business.
Even more serious is the solitariness of spirit. No more sharing the moment. No more watching my husband light up, thereby making the moment richer because I get to watch someone I love being filled with an experience, too.
I’ve been struggling to adjust to appreciating experiences for myself alone. Is there value in lone adventures?
For instance, going to a concert:
A few weeks ago, one of my all-time favorite musicians released affordably priced tickets at a fabulous venue for his upcoming tour, and I jumped on the website for a ticket….or tickets. How many tickets did I need? Who in the world will go with me?
I had to act fast because this show was going to sell out quickly, so I bought a pair of tickets. Two. I rationalized: I’ll talk one of my daughters into going with me. We’ll make it a weekend getaway, and if both of them want to go, they can arm wrestle for the concert seat. The other can stay in the hotel, enjoy the hottub, watch a movie.
I had to make a joke of it to cover the hole inside me.
After I bought the tickets, whenever I thought about actually going to the concert–imagined the beautiful, old venue, its acoustics, and the richness of the music–I felt empty. I mean this quite literally–my stomach bottomed out and there was a hollowness below my heart, right in my center, that expanded.
The experience of hearing this artist live is a bucket-list thrill, but knowing the experience won’t be shared with my love just made the whole trip absurd. I want to go with Todd, damn it. We would share the experience, and knowing he’d have the same music inside of him would completely fill me up.
Having no one to do things with is absolutely frustrating. I want to travel, but I have no one to share the experiences with. Moreover, I question the value of having adventures when I’ll have no one to share them with in the moment and later as memories, memories I alone will have inside of me that will one day die with me. What’s the point of that? Again, what value is there in lone experiences?
I have a widower friend who traveled to Europe by himself the year after his wife died. Even though he was a seasoned traveler, he said it was hard, harder than he’d expected, and he wouldn’t recommend it.
I don’t plan on touring another country this year, but I do want to see parts of America this summer. I know I won’t be able to always rely on my children to do things with me–a concert, maybe, drive across the country–probs not. However, since I feel compelled to do things and go places, even if it means I go alone, I’m pretty sure I’ve answered my own question about the value of lone experiences. The value is plain old joy in living, and I shouldn’t feel guilty or scared to want an adventure to look forward to.
Leaving the house is a start. Joining a monthly writing group at my local library. A day hike with my dogs. A concert with a daughter. Maybe the smaller adventures will help me shore up that empty space in my center so I can again feel joy.
In the meantime, I’m looking into group travel. I have a retired teacher friend who arranges excursions around the globe, and I’ve found this group: https://www.thewomenstravelgroup.com/about-us/ ! I’m sure there are loads of such groups online–I just have to spend some time looking.
I know it’s perfectly okay to stay home.
I also know it’s okay to yearn for adventure again because, ultimately, having my own dreams is part of redefining the value of living for myself. The universe seems to agree: this week I won a pair of tickets in a Valentine’s Day giveaway (oh, the irony!) to a weekend music festival in July.