When my husband died, the last thing I wanted was to be at home. Being in our house without him was just too painful. Coming home from work and him not greeting me at the door hurt my soul. Attending events for my son, alone, made me want to cry. So instead, I decided to run away from my widowhood.
My husband died in September, the first time I ran away was in November. We had booked our trip to Costa Rica for Thanksgiving prior to his death. So my son and I went ahead and took the trip. And that started a pattern that when life at home became too hard, I took a vacation. I ran away from the memories in the house. I told myself I was teaching my son that life is short, live in the moment. I told myself I was giving my son the experience of seeing the world. I told myself some of the journeys were for work so that didn’t really count as a vacation. But no matter what I told myself, the truth was, I was running away from the pain.
The vacations were amazing. Healing in fact. Gave me a new perspective. On a dude ranch in Wyoming, my son told me he was happy for the first time since his dad died. It was in a hotel room in Hong Kong, when I decided I wanted to truly live. And it was on a mountain top in Colorado when I knew we would be ok. That I didn’t need to run away any more.
It was then I started planning trips because I wanted the adventure. The opportunity to experience new cultures. The chance to live. Vacations were no longer an excuse to run away from the pain. But an opportunity to make new memories with my son.
Because no matter how great the vacation, when you stop running, you still come home to an empty house. You have to find the money to pay the bills. You have to survive the day to day life as a widow. And no amount of vacations can take away the ache, the pain. Only time and doing the grief work can do that. Running away only prolonged the inevitable.
It took me two years to realize I couldn’t outrun my widowhood. That going away only temporarily helped. That eventually I had to return home. To the empty house. To the painful reminders that my husband was dead. That I had to stop running. That I had to face my grief. My pain. My fears. That no matter how far I traveled, my husband wasn’t wasn’t going to greet me when I came back. I had to deal with the fact was my was dead. I had to face the truth that I was forever his widow. I had to choose to be happy and live again. Every day.
So instead of running, I decided to own my widowhood. It is a part of my story. It helped make me the woman I am today. I am a widow. But it didn’t have to define me. And I didn’t realize that until I stopped running and started living.
When I realized I couldn’t outrun my widowhood, everything changed. I was happy, found joy again. I started living instead of surviving. I figured out who I am and who I want to be. And that woman travels because she wants to see someplace new. Because the world is huge and there is so much to do. Because life is short and no one is guaranteed tomorrow. Because she is a strong, independent woman with an adventurous soul. She travels now because it brings her pleasure, not to run away from the pain.
I can’t run away from my widowhood. It is a part of me. Always will be. So instead I own it. Make it work in my favor. Use it to remind to live every day. I decided to stop running and start living.