I am in my fifth year as a widow. I am to a certain extent “over it”. I am settled into a routine. I go out to coffee with other widows and occasionally a few couples from groups I belonged to while Ray was alive. I don't have much contact from his family. I do still talk to one sister-in-law occasionally. That's fine. At first I missed the contact but now I don't. I live in a sort of widow bubble, alone yet bumping into others, enough contact to keep me from feeling isolated yet not enough to make me feel part of any particular group.
An ageing widow is treated differently from a widower. I find widowers are thought of as being single men while a widow is just a woman on her own with invisible appendages. Widows are thought of as still having family responsibilities so I am often asked if I spend my time minding the grandchildren now. I think that was once a traditional function of widows but not so much now when families are so scattered. With the distance we are apart it would be difficult for me to look after any of my grandchildren on a regular basis.
As a widow I am free to do a lot of volunteering which takes up my time and allows me to make some pleasant acquaintances. It is no substitute for close family or being a member of a couple but it is okay. I would rather be busy than not and I find a lot to do that I consider worthwhile use of my time. But I would rather be a member of a couple, one of the thousands doing the round Australia trip or going off on a cruise. I may go on a cruise when I can find another woman who wants to go that I can feel comfortable with in a confined space.
At the beginning of the month I went to Honolulu for five days, my first trip east of Australia. I shared with a lady from Arizona who I had talked to for ten years on the Internet. It worked out well. She was my guide to American customs and I found a lot of friendly people in Hawaii, talked to a lot of snow birds from Canada and also the occasional Aussie over there on holidays. It was a good experience. I just loved Waikiki and hope to go back there one day. It was nice to have company and I confess I felt that left down come after I had been home a week. Any time spent in company does that to me, I call it the “empty house syndrome”.
I intent to stray a little further from home this year. I have friends I have promised to see in various places inland of here so will try and do some of those visits. It will take a little planning but that will be okay. I know that I will not get many visitors in return but as most of the people I will be visiting are older than me and have a sick husband or wife that is excusable. It is about time I fulfilled some of the promises I made when Ray was really ill that I would visit later when I had more time to do so.
I don't have someone special in my life right now. I do have plenty of people I talk to, a couple of them men but nothing that is likely to turn into a romance. I am a little wistful about that but I am a hard person to slot into someone else's life I guess. My man friend from last year said it all when he said my life was too complicated. Finding that special person is hard when you have to give them a schedule of what your week usually looks like. Maybe eventually I will retire from some of the volunteer work but for now it is keeping me sane.
I'm glad I took the trip to Honolulu, it was a little scary to go somewhere out of my comfort zone, a place I had never visited before. The other trips I have made on my own since Ray's death have been to England where I have always felt as if I have back up in the form of my cousins there. It is difficult to go out on my own but it worked in Hawaii so why would it not work somewhere else? It has given me a new idea of what I can do while I am still healthy and able to travel. That has to be a good thing.