It’s Friday. I used to really love Fridays – it meant the start of a weekend, which meant two full days with Paul. I remember trying to wrangle a way to leave the office early, if only by 15 minutes because it meant that little bit of extra time “doing nothing” with Paul. Friday meant staying up a bit later, maybe having a drink or two, or maybe going out for dinner. Sometimes, Friday meant getting in the car to go away for the weekend.
Note: This post was originally shared on my “widowhood” blog, “Frances 3.0: Still in Beta”.
A typical weekend at home would see us doing some chores around the house and yard and doing our weekly grocery shopping. We would have a nice breakfast together, too. Maybe a British-style fry-up or some good old American-style blueberry pancakes. Or a recent favourite of Paul’s, coffee cake! We’d go for a run together – or a 5K race – we’d go for a bike ride, a hike, or a walk. Sometimes we’d go on a short drive to some amazing place and have a picnic. Sometimes, we’d just sit around and do nothing together. And, on a Sunday evening, we’d watch EastEnders – we had quite the routine for our Easties time, that would sound silly to anyone else but we enjoyed being silly.
Weekends are a completely different animal for me now. From the time I get home on a Friday evening until I return to the office Monday morning, it is very possible that I won’t speak to another human being. It is very possible that I won’t step foot out of the house, or even open the shades. I may not even get dressed for the entire weekend.
From the beginning, I promised myself that I would participate in activities if I was invited, and I have done. But those activities are few and far between, since most people I know spend their weekends with their families, doing family things. (I can’t blame them; it’s how I spent my weekends until Paul died.) So, with everyone engaged in other activities, I find myself with nothing to do.
Some weekends I’ve gone into town for groceries, but it’s a difficult task to do alone, and I’ve found it easier to just pop into the shops on my way home from work. Some weekends I’ve travelled to Cle Elum so that I can visit Paul’s grave, but then I’m spending most of my time in the car, alone, and the rest of my time sitting and watching TV at my parents’ house.
So, most weekends I end up sitting on the couch at home, alone, reflecting on what I “would” be doing that weekend if Paul was with me. At this point, I’m still too emotional to do many things alone – I can’t bear the thought of working in the garden alone; running gives me too much time to think about how much I miss running with Paul, and so many other activities aren’t ones I can face doing solo just yet.
I find myself wondering what I would do if I lived somewhere other than here. If I were in Cle Elum, would I spend the weekends at the lake or one of my favourite spots in the Alpine Wilderness? Would I be out picking huckleberries in the summer or skiing in the winter? Or maybe I’d be sitting in the Pioneer writing. If I were in Scotland, would I spend the weekends travelling in the highlands and walking the hills? Would I find myself at a gallery enjoying the art, or going on a walking tour learning about the ghosts of Edinburgh’s past? Or would I be sitting in a coffee shop somewhere, watching people go by? I knew how to be alone in those places because before I met Paul, I was able to entertain myself with ease and enjoyment. But I’ve never been alone here on the Palouse, and I don’t know how to do it.
I find being alone to be a very lonely thing right now, where before meeting Paul I was so happy and content on my own. I actually revelled in spending time by myself; the time I would use to reflect on my life and to work on my writing. But before I met Paul I was alone by choice. And now, I’m alone by circumstance beyond my control.
I’m trying to keep busy, as much as I can. I’m catching up on my reading and I’m starting to write again. I’m doing all of those little things that I never had time to do when I was happily busy all weekend with Paul. And, I’m watching EastEnders every Sunday – keeping to “our” Easties routine and running commentary as much as possible. It’s one of the few rituals that I feel I can still share with Paul, even in his absence.
So, while most of the western world is thinking “TGIF” and wishing their co-workers a “great weekend” – I am waiting excitedly for Monday morning to roll around again to give me a bit of a distraction and some human interaction.