Note: This post was originally shared on my “widowhood” blog, “Frances 3.0: Still in Beta”.
I spent the last few days in a fancy-schmancy hotel in downtown Seattle. And being there made me realise how much I miss Paul; how very lonely I am without him. I was in Seattle for work—a bi-annual event that Paul would normally accompany me to. We’d stay in the fancy hotel, go out for a fancy dinner, then sit in the hotel lounge drinking martinis in our best “la-de-da” fashion. I always looked forward to these trips because of the time I’d spend with Paul.
I was dreading this trip from the beginning. The last work trip I took that included a fancy hotel was to Spokane just a week before Paul died. And we enjoyed our la-de-da time very much—we went out for dinner and then did a bit of shopping before going to the hotel’s lounge for our martini date. In the morning, while I was in my meetings, Paul was at the hotel’s gym training for his marathon. Then we drove home together and he told me how proud he was of me for my accomplishments (these meetings are always filled with long hours of work and extra frustration). That’s what this trip should have been, too.
But, alas, I was on my own this time. I prepared myself for it to be difficult—the work part as well as the missing Paul part—but didn’t prepare myself for it well enough I suppose. It started out weird because I asked for just one key; Paul wouldn’t need one this time. Then in the elevator lobby I ran into someone from the university who’d only just heard the news about Paul an hour earlier, so I had to do the whole “how are you doing”—“I’m hanging in there” thing which I hate so much.
Finally getting to my room, I couldn’t seem to open the door. And in my head I could hear Paul saying what he always said to me when we got to our room: “You’re putting the card in wrong. For such a smart woman, you can never open hotel room doors.” I looked at the card; it wasn’t me who was wrong, the card just didn’t work. Back in the lobby there was a long line to wait in to resolve the issue. So when I finally made it into my room, and Paul wasn’t there to immediately pack up the coffees and toiletries so that the maid would bring more in the morning, I broke down.
My first night was made slightly better by going out for drinks with an old friend from school who lives in the area, but by the following day the reality hit that I was all alone. In between meetings, instead of meeting with Paul for coffee, I sat in an empty hotel room. There was no one to ask me about my day and no one to share the beautiful day with. And that evening, when all of my meetings were done, I was back in my room alone. Feeling a bit lost because there was no one to enjoy it with.
I couldn’t bring myself to sit in the lounge being la-de-da on my own, and couldn’t imagine eating out at a fancy restaurant on my own either. So instead I ordered room service for the first time in my life and just sat in bed in my PJs. I had a couple of books and a TV remote, and spent the evening taking it easy. And it was so hard. What should have been a nice evening in a fancy hotel was overshadowed by the fact that I was alone.
I hate that I have to do these things alone. I hate that I have to change the way I do most things because Paul is not here. I hate that I can’t even enjoy these simple little things anymore. I hate that I have to learn how to do all of these things on my own again. I’m so tired of having to be brave and of having to face things on my own. I’m trying to create new traditions and new ways of doing things so that I can make these things more bearable, but it’s hard. I have a long list of “first time since Paul died” events and activities to get through yet, and I really hope that they get a little easier at some point.