Thursday, June 4, 2015

Firsts, Friends, & an Empty Bed

Dear John,
 
It seems that I'm having another first. I thought I was done with those. I've survived the first Christmas without you, first birthdays, first anniversary. Now I'm getting ready for my first vacation without you, and it's shaking loose some emotions.
 
We never talked about how to divide the pre-vacation responsibilities, but we did have a system. You took care of maps and reservations, paying bills ahead, getting the car ready. I took care of laundry, the fridge, the dishes, packing, boarding the animals, and getting the house ready to leave. For the first time I'm doing all of it. The work is okay, it's the thinking that's taking effort. I keep remembering things that you used to do. And I put them on my list.
 
But I mentioned emotions, didn't I? I took Jethro to the vet this morning and found myself feeling a bit sad and anxious about leaving him. This is the dog that loves being boarded, that ran off with Willie without a glance back at me, that dragged me in the door when we got there. I'll miss him. The cats miss him, too. They aren't speaking to me since I left with him and didn't bring him back with me. The bed feels very lonely tonight without my big dog snuggled up with me.
 
But those aren't the right emotions. I'm so excited about this trip, so looking forward to it. But somewhere in the back of my mind is the constant awareness that this is my first vacation without you. It's like any other "first" - it underlines the fact that you're gone and nothing will ever be the same again. It's also bringing up memories of vacations we took together and ones we wanted to take but didn't have time. I expect the drive to Louisville to be emotional, but I'll be fine after I get there.
 
I've realized the firsts will never end. Every new thing I do will be something I never did with you, and that will be a first. I will gradually do more things that we used to do together - more firsts. I will learn what to expect as time goes on. I will learn the rhythm of it. And it is good. Every widow before me has walked this same path. My widowfriends and I walk it together. Together, we'll get there.
 
Today I boarded the dog and did laundry before work. Tomorrow I'll work until 5:00, then come home and clean the house. I already have clothes out to take; I'll bring the suitcase up tomorrow night and finish packing Saturday morning. I'll be thinking of you when I back out of the driveway. But that's nothing new - I'm always thinking of you.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

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