I am on my first vacation since the pandemic started it is also my first as a widow. I don’t have the man that I choose as my forever shotgun rider anymore. I decided to go to Maine to see my friend Chelsea, I have not seen her in two years. I was excited to get away from my life. To get away from Matt’s ghost that surrounds me at home. Being stressed out and it is making my grief harder than it needs to be. My anxiety and paranoia are at the highest they have been in a while.

I had to get some new clothes for the trip. Packed them in the small bags I had because I could not bring myself to go into the room with all his stuff to grab a suitcase. I like to call this avoidance being a widowed adult my mom likes to call it not coping. Either way, I figured out how to pack all the stuff I needed.

Friday midday it hit me that I am going alone. My forever shotgun rider is no longer going on trips with me. The Tim McGraw song  Shotgun Rider popped into my head. I miss riding in the car with him a lot. Just staring at him as he drove. Holding his hand in mine. Placing my hand on his leg. It brought me comfort with my driving anxiety. How was I going to drive almost six hours completely alone? I should have just bought a plane ticket, but it was too late.

Saturday morning, I packed up the car and took off. The shotgun seat may forever be empty, but he is there with me. I had our rings, and I packed his sweatshirt that I still sleep with when I miss him and cannot fall asleep. He was with me as I got to the New York border. The was with me when I stopped at the rest area that we had stopped at both times we went to Maine.

When I was stuck in traffic, I could picture him in the car with me getting road rage. The rings I carry around my neck help to ground me and when my anxiety gets the best of me they end up on my fingers. After avoiding several people merging into me I put them on. Feeling the weight of his ring reminds me I have a guardian angel watching me making sure I am okay.

When I got to Maine I felt home and for the first time in nine months, I felt hope that I could feel happy again. The Welcome sign reads Welcome home and in a way that is what I am doing. I am coming back to the home we did not share together. I am coming to the place that felt like home before he was in my life. I could remember the places that we went to together as I passed them on the highway. The memories are different than my New York memories. They are happy reminders of the life we lived. I miss him but it is not painful. His ghost is with me here, but it is not in every corner. I feel the peace that I needed.

I am hoping that this vacation helps me heal. That I find parts of the old me and can take her home with me. That when I get home, I will be able to cope with my grief in a new way. Maybe I will start visiting with the memories and processing them. He will always be in my heart and travel everywhere with me. He will always be my forever shotgun rider.


Laurel became a young widow on October 2, 2020, her husband Matt had a heart attack he was only 37. Matt was a juvenile diabetic and they always knew he would die young but she never thought that she could be a widow at 32. Navigating grief with anxiety, regrets and guilt have been a struggle for Laurel. They had gotten into a fight days before he died and they had talked about divorce. One of the things that helped her the most is finding other widows who understood the pain she was feeling. In February she decided to start writing her story. Self-care is something else she started to do daily and art has become her outlet to get what she is feeling out which she shares on her Instagram. Being a young widow comes with its own challenges but we are not alone in this journey.
You can find her on Instagram @HealingPorcupine or her personal blog link- Healingporcupine.com.