To comprehend how far we’ve moved forward after a life-changing event, it’s helpful to take a look back. I often ask myself to recall what I was doing a year, or even more, earlier at any given time. It may be difficult, but in the end it is ultimately helpful, for better or worse.
This week two years ago, Rich and I were heading up I-95 to attend a wedding and then on to New Jersey to spend time with friends and to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary at the very place we’d gotten married. Who knew it would be his last road trip and he would never return to the life we’d known when we’d set off on our ride north.
This week one year ago, I made the same trip up I-95 to spend time with friends and family in my home town of Hackensack, New Jersey and later at my adoptive town at the Jersey Shore. This time I travelled with just the companionship of my dog, Quint. While there, I left some of Rich’s ashes on the waters of the Barnegat Bay where we’d spent so much time boating and floating. That trip became the content of my first post for Widow’s Voice. A first big solo step.
A few months ago, I’d made reservations for a week’s stay in Key Colony Beach, a subdivision of Marathon in the mid-keys. When I’d first me Rich, he always spoke so enthusiastically about the Florida Keys and was surprised I’d never been. Naturally it became our Honeymoon Destination in October 1996.
We stayed at the Hawks Cay Resort, a beautiful location in the Upper Keys. Our first night there, we had the hotel bar to ourselves. It was peaceful at first, but a business conference was being held there and all of a sudden, sales reps from a major fast-food corporation flooded the place. They were rowdy and having a great time, but when they heard it was our honeymoon, they apologized for intruding on our quiet time and sent over rounds of drinks and free food passes for their chain.
Soon after, a storm blasted in, toppling chairs and potted palms. It was my first introduction to The Keys and I’d fallen in love with them already. Over the course of nearly 30 years we rented homes in Caloosa Cove, Islamorada, Key Colony Beach and Big Pine Key. We always had houseguests and made so many great memories.
So it made perfect sense that I’d made plans to head there for the last week of September to spend what would’ve been our 27th wedding anniversary and to leave the last of Rich’s ashes in a place he loved.
But those plans changed after I returned home from Camp Widow in San Diego and was presented with the opportunity to purchase a log cabin somewhere in the middle of rural Florida.
So, instead of sharing the “last of Rich” with a place from our past, I found myself sharing him with a place of my future. Not long after I took possession of that cabin on the lake, I spread the last of Rich’s remains on the bank of Lake Pleasant right in my new backyard and blew a small conch whistle he’d purchased at a gift shop in the Keys many years earlier. If it’s possible to buy a sense of peace and tranquility, then I’ve bought it and maybe for now that’s just what I need.