I’m leaving for a weekend getaway today. It’ll my first vacation – mini or otherwise – since Peter died. Oh, I’ve gone on jaunts by myself and he went on many by himself. He was more the traveler than me. He liked driving and seeing the sights. I like hotel rooms and Airbnbs. He was more the get-up-and-explore. I am more the read-or-write-and-chillax. It was just one of our difference, how we looked at our time away. Like everything else in our marriage, our vacations together were compromises – some of the time exploring, some relaxing. Today, though, marks the first time leaving my house for an extended period of time. And that is scary and uncertain and angst-provoking.
My house has been my cacoon since Peter died. It’s been my refuge from the world of despair and anxiety. It has given me my courage when I needed to fight with insurances and financial institutions. It’s been my safe place to land when the world has pushed me off this edge of uncertain widowhood. It’s here where the memories of him blanket over me in comfort. A wall of the house holds his picture, the same one I say goodnight and good morning to, and have talks with throughout the day. It’s a house I know I will have to sell eventually because of its size and the upkeep I’m not willing to take on, but can’t seem to commit to when….nor do I have to right now.
My house, which used to be our house, was the one Peter and I built our family in for twenty-three years. It’s where we grew our friendship, made love in, had arguments in, made up in, laughed and loved and sometimes hated in and always, accepted unconditionally in. My house is where I continued to commit to the vows I made in front of family, friends, and God, sometimes during the worse of moments. And, after Peter died, it is the house I allowed grief to jailed me in. My house is my solace because Life has been cruel to me and I needed, need, a place to be protected myself from all of the brutality.
Today, I am leaving it for a few days and trusting my son and neighbors to look after it. Today, I am stepping out from the one place I feel safe. I am tearing myself away because I know, it’s time. I cannot lock myself away in this castle of grief no matter how much I yearn to ball up and just exist. But that’s not how I roll. I am a dreamer and a doer and a tough girl from the Southside. I was Peter’s dreamer and doer and tough girl from the Southside. I don’t want this for myself. Peter would have never wanted this for me. With every bone, every part of my soul and heart, I know I can’t stay stagnant, nor would Peter want me to because that is not the woman he fell in love with and married. It’s not the woman I love.
So, my bags are packed and in my car’s trunk. After a few hours of work, I will head out of town with a dear, sweet friend who has been there with me for a long time. This is the first of many weekends away in the next month. Not only do I have a birthday and an anniversary coming up that I don’t want to share with the house, but this and the weekends following is my first of many attempts to put my toe in the water of my future, a future that does not include Peter or the protection of the house.
My house served its purpose over the years, including the last few months. It has held my children while they grew, was the roof over Peter and my relationship and all that meant, and it was my sanctuary when Death claimed the most important person in my life. And while I don’t want to fully let go of it, I need to start taking steps away from it if I am ever going to fully live again. I have to release its grip on me, and my codependent grip on it, in order to live outside in the world of independence, the way I should live. The way Peter would want me to live. The way I want to live. The way I have to live in order to live at all.
Talk to you soon…in my Airbnb.