Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | April 17, 2015

road trip

papa & baby

papa & baby

For me, coming up on six years a widow, life is good. Mostly. At least part of every day is filled with beauty, love, grace, and laughter. I notice the good things with gratitude. My life holds people, experiences, and opportunities that would never have come my way if Jeff were still here. I would never willingly make that trade, but I did not get the choice: those new things are here; my husband is not.


Soon my grown girl and I will take a happy road trip. We’re heading to Vermont to celebrate a new baby soon to come. Anna’s cousin, Jeff’s favorite nephew Chris and his bride Samantha are having a baby boy! Welcome, Max!

We love us a road trip! Last time we went to Vermont was to celebrate Chris and Sam’s wedding; now it’s to celebrate the fruit of that union. We love to visit our Vermont family. It may be the only place Jeff and I were ever truly relaxed, not thinking about what chore came next at work, home, or camp. I love his sister Karen as I love my own sisters. We have so many things in common; we’ve been friends for decades. And she was here with us the last hard week of Jeff’s life, helping me lift her big brother out of bed.

Jeff and I were good friends for many years before our friendship deepened into love. Long before we were a couple, I watched Jeff with Karen’s baby boy Christopher. Jeff was happily single, building a business, no girlfriend on the horizon. I was in my early twenties, with no designs on Jeff and no baby longings of my own. But I noticed how easily Jeff held baby Chris, how happily he spoke and played with him. I inherently knew that Jeff would be a wonderful father. I knew it would be his life’s most joyful work. At the time I never dreamed that we two would share that love, work, and joy.

There’s a raft of family, food, and fun awaiting us in Vermont. We’re going to the happiest celebration a family has. Chris and Sam will be awesome parents. Never has a baby been more happily anticipated, or born into a more loving circle. I can’t wait to see all the extended family. They are our only connections to Flanagan, and a whole lot of fun besides. Good times await! Karen is over the moon to be a grandma. She’s been crafting up a storm; I’m excited to see the bounty. Their house is so cozy: leather sofas to sprawl on, good coffee in the morning, splendid meals at night, gardens coming alive. Out the window is Camel’s Hump Mountain in all its ever-changing glory.

Spring is evident in the rural byways of our path. I love an expedition! With my daughter! I love my family – Jeff’s family – and I love Vermont.

And yet for several days now, I can’t stop crying. Tears keep falling out of me all day and night. I’m packing; tears leak out. I’m wrapping a sweet baby gift; brief sobbing overtakes me like a sudden summer storm. I’m reading our itinerary, cleaning out the car, packing a lunch. Missing my husband, crying. It’s unsettling to be so happy and so sad, all tied up together in a big crazy bundle. Of tears.

I’m not one of the grief-stricken people who asks Why Me? Why did this happen to our family? I know the answer is: why not me? I know sadness comes to every family. I know all this. I’ve worked hard to accept the unacceptable. I’ve got “it is what it is” tattooed on my chest, for God’s sake, to help me remember.

But some days none of this is helpful. Some days all I can think is

He should be here for this. God damn it! He. Should. Be. Here.

He is not here.

Jeff, driving us home

Jeff, driving us home


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