I spent nearly two weeks in the UK with family and friends, and have returned feeling refreshed and relaxed. A break was just what I needed to face reality again. I am so glad that I went and if I’m honest, I really do wish I was there still. I can’t explain how amazing it was to be surrounded by people who are so very supportive. It was nice to be able to laugh without worrying that I was upsetting someone by not grieving “correctly” and it was nice to be able to laugh with people who would also allow me to cry.
Note: This post was originally shared on my “widowhood” blog, “Frances 3.0: Still in Beta”.
I’ve read so many accounts of “nightmare in-laws” and truly feel lucky that I don’t have similar experiences. From the moment I arrived, I was welcomed and loved by Paul’s family – my family. They really made me feel as if I belonged and were so amazingly kind and generous to me. There wasn’t a time when I was worried about how I would feel around them. And I was so pleased to feel at home with them.
It was my time in Scotland with Paul’s friends I was worried about. I feared that I would feel awkward spending time with his friends, but instead found that they were all welcoming and loving, too. I can truly see a time when I call them “my” friends. Their welcoming affections made my return to Scotland a peaceful and enjoyable trip.
Walking around the city where I met Paul – and fell in love with Paul – without him was difficult at first, but eventually, I found a strange peace with it all. After all, I’d long fallen in love with the city before ever meeting Paul. It was a strange feeling of being happy and sad at the same time, but I knew in my heart that the happy feelings would eventually overshadow the sadness.
At some point, I realised that I was enjoying myself completely. I had always thought that I would feel guilty for that, that I would feel like I was betraying Paul, even though I know more than anything that he wants me to be happy. But I didn’t feel guilty. What I found was that I can be happy and still miss Paul. I can enjoy life and be so full of joy even though on some level my heart aches for Paul, and will always ache for him. I don’t know if it was being in Edinburgh or being with friends, but I could really feel the best in myself coming out. And I liked that so very much.
Over the course of my trip, I realised that for more than seven months I’ve been afraid of the future. I’ve been afraid to really live my life, to make any changes, to think about a happy future. I was afraid that moving forward would mean that the past didn’t matter, that it meant that I didn’t need Paul to be happy. I’ve been afraid that moving forward without Paul would mean that I would spend the rest of my life sad and lonely. It’s strange, but I almost feel as if I’ve found permission from Paul’s family and friends to be happy. I know that they’ve wanted that for me from the start, but being with them and laughing with them really did help me see it fully for the first time.
I feel ready to face the future now. I know it will be scary, I know it will be sad and lonely at times, but I know that it is there and that I will survive it. I’ve returned home with a renewed focus and am finally ready to do the things I was afraid to do before. Or at least, I’ve told myself I’m ready. I’ve begun to look at the long list of things I’ve been avoiding until I felt I was ready, and will tackle them one at a time. I know that I am walking through this new future alone, but at the same time, I know that there are others there to face the future with me.