When you lose a significant partner in life… you go on an emotional journey.
Steve and I used to go to our favorite winery 4-6 times a year. It was Childress Vineyards, in Lexington, NC. We started going there as we were both big NASCAR fans, and Steve was a fan of Richard Childress. We weren’t even big wine drinkers the first time we visited, but we quickly fell in love with the winery and the people who work there. The winery had become like a second home to us over the years, and the people there became a second family.
I went back to the winery in 2021, just three weeks or so after Steve had passed. I went with my sister, but she wasn’t a great emotional support, sad to say. She didn’t want to hug me or talk about anything other than to say “That’s an emotional purchase,” when I bought a souvenir that Steve had wanted to get the last time we were at the winery together.
And while that may be true, it was something we talked about and I wanted to complete his chapter and his wishes. I knew that this was what he wanted.
I booked multiple trips in 2021 while Steve was sick, to keep him motivated to hang on. But that never happened.
So fast forward to June, 2022.
I’m using those unused travel credits from 2021 to take a trip to the winery, by myself. The winemaker, a good friend of Steve and I, was having a birthday and the winery put together a nice dinner to celebrate, complete with wine pairings of course. But the timing couldn’t have been worse – storms in North Carolina caused my flight to cancel, so I had to book a new flight, which got delayed, and then when I finally made it to North Carolina, the rental car company wouldn’t honor my reservation.
So I’m caught up in all this mayhem, just to get to our favorite place on earth… never a dull moment. I really could have used someone with me for company, for support. To let me know everything was going to be okay. I could have used Steve.
Multiple texts and conversations with my kids, gave me comfort that I was not alone. And my daughter-in-law gave me a good luck turtle before the trip.
And with good luck and by the Grace of God and Steve …I made it there. To our happiest place on earth.
I only broke down twice during the trip. It was during my first lunch dining out by myself as a party of one… all the travel stress, along with missing Steve, was a lot to handle at once.
But my new lucky turtle gave me hope.
My kids were on hand to offer their assistance in the mayhem, because that’s what they do. They still look out for me even though they’re at work. They offered to call Uber when I couldn’t pick up my rental car, they offered to send me spending money since my rental car refund wouldn’t go through right away, they tried to think of who they knew in the area who could help.
I can’t give anyone a formula for being a great or good parent, I know I wasn’t. But somehow, I raised some amazing human beings!
I’ve come to realize, after I talked to several other friends at the winemaker’s birthday dinner, that widowhood looks good on me. So I’m not living under a rock, after all. And I’ve learned that it’s a compliment, not that any one wished it on me. I always dressed well and would ask Steve for his opinion. And now, I still think about his opinion, and if I still look good… thank you, Steve. Because I still want to please him and make him proud… I can hear him say, “this is my wife… honey, you look good in anything.” I guess love IS truly blind!
Since I was by myself, I had to figure how to zip up my dress and put on my better jewelry, or not wear it at all! It’s hard to secure a clasp with one hand while trying to fasten it with the other. Small things we often take for granted. But I survived, it wasn’t the end of the world and I made it back home safely without any issues.
I’ve come to the conclusion that if you have friends at your destination, you don’t need to bring a friend. I had a lovely time. Our friends in the area looked out for me, offered rides if I needed, had lunch and drinks with me, just as if Steve couldn’t make the trip and was at home.
We got caught up on our lives… a new baby here, a new house there, and I learned all about raising chickens.
So I’ve decided that since this trip went well, even though it stared out against all odds, I’ll continue to journey. After all, that’s what life is – a journey.