We went to Canada.
Exactly a year ago, we set off on our first inter-continental journey to visit my sister and her family. It was a daunting prospect - multiple stages, overnight stays, meetups with relatives in airport cafes in between flights - finding our way through the maze of terminals at Heathrow, but, miraculously, everything worked out and we arrived safely. It was wonderful and different, and yet so familiar. I hadn't seen my niece or nephews since they were teens, and here they were all grown up with jobs and partners and homes of their own - how I loved the adults they have become. It was good to spend time with my sister and brother-in law in their beautiful home in the woods. I spent many hours sitting outside chatting to my sister - catching up with where we are, and looking back at where we've been.
We did amazing things - sightseeing, eating, shopping, relaxing in stunning surroundings, and just celebrating being there. My daughter, son in law and grandchildren came over to join us half way through our trip. By then, I had screwed up my courage, hired a car and hit those freeways. That was a major achievement for me, I can tell you. The magical summer continued - picnics by the lake, flip-flops, barbecues, sitting out late on the back porch, and a never to be forgotten road trip to Niagara Falls. It was all so special - every moment.
It was the first big and really new thing we had done without John. And how he would have loved it. It was sad to think that we were making memories that he wasn't going to be part of - but I guess that in itself brought him along. I wondered if I might have taken more of a back seat - literally - if he had been there. Would I have driven the 401 in my flip-flops? I don't know, but I did it, clinging on to that steering wheel in terror and desperately keeping track of all those traffic lanes!
It feels a bit like a betrayal somehow - this sense of enjoyment - this expansion of myself, when he is no longer here. And I think that is the point - it is my Self that needs to expand into the space left by my husband, It is a place that contains him and the love we had for each other. Not moving on and leaving him behind, but using what we created in our life together to move forward - flip-flops and all.