Looking forward to shared laughter and tears

I booked my ticket for a holiday to the UK today. Now I’m happy and sad; I’m looking forward to my trip and I’m dreading it.

Note: This post was originally shared on my “widowhood” blog, “Frances 3.0: Still in Beta”.

This will be my first holiday since Paul and I went to England for a family reunion about two months before he died. I took less than two weeks off from work right after he died then another week a month later to go to England for funeral services there. But I’ve yet to have a real break from my dreadful new reality; there was just too much to do at work to be able to take time off.

I remember the day before Paul died we looked at flights so that he could attend a reunion dinner with his university friends. We planned for him to travel to Scotland on Thanksgiving; he would have arrived the next day (on his birthday) and gone to dinner the day after that. He would have come home a couple of days later – just a quick trip over to see his friends, while I stayed at home with our children. And now, instead of planning his trip, I’m planning mine. My trip will begin just a couple of days earlier than his trip would have and instead of a quick there-and-back, I will be there for nearly two weeks.

The day after I arrive will mark seven months since Paul died, and my first Thanksgiving without him. The following day would have been his 48th birthday; the day after that, his university reunion dinner. I will be flying into England where I will spend Thanksgiving and Paul’s birthday with his family. Both days are certain to be emotional, but I’m very much looking forward to spending the time with my in-laws, who are some of the most loving and supportive people I know. I’m certain that they will make those first few days easier on me.

It’s the following day that will be one of the hardest in some ways. That’s the day that I will take a train to Scotland. It’s the day I will arrive in Edinburgh for the first time without Paul. I am meant to be attending his reunion dinner that night, and I am already dreading it. Paul was looking forward to the dinner, and had been for more than a year; in the weeks before he died, he spoke excitedly about his days at university and how much he always enjoyed dinners with his old friends. He spoke of the traditions, of the memories, of the drunken nights, and of the hung-over mornings with so much joy and passion that I felt as if I’d lived those days with him. I don’t know how I will make it through the night without tears… and lots of them!

I will spend a few days in Edinburgh visiting with friends before returning to England. I don’t really know what I’ll do or where I’ll go once I get there, but hope to figure that out as I go along. I’ll spend time playing tourist and walking down memory lane, and lots of time crying for sure. Part of me truly wants to return long-term, and I’m hoping that being there will help dust off the rose tint so that I can figure out what I really want, versus what may be a fanciful dream fed by a desire to escape reality.

I am sad that I will be taking a holiday without Paul; that I will be going to see his family and friends when it should be him going. I’m dreading the trip because I know that it will be very emotional visiting all of the places we went together without him, knowing that I will never be able to have a holiday with him again.

At the same time, I am happy that I will be seeing Paul’s family and friends, and I am looking forward to finally taking a couple of weeks to relax and escape. I am looking forward to being surrounded by people who love Paul so very much and who share in my grief and I hope to find some solace and strength from the shared laughter and tears with his family and friends.

While it somehow feels wrong that I’m taking the trip instead of him – almost like I’m betraying him – I know I’m not and I know that he’d be happy that I’m going. Overall, I think it will be a good trip for me; therapeutic in some ways. And because I know it would make Paul happy, I am travelling with British Airways (“It’s the best” I can hear him telling me) and I will be buying new clothes for my trip because you always have to buy new clothes before you go on holiday. Paul said so.

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