I’m sitting in a park in Old Quebec surrounded by ancient buildings. Bells are ringing with abandon from all directions and a nearby fountain is whispering, “Breathe deeply, my friend.”
Today is my wedding anniversary. Even though I am bereft of my husband, Gary, I am celebrating our special event with a cruise up the Saint Lawrence River and out into the Atlantic — from Quebec to Boston. Alone.
Here on this park bench, my thoughts are swirling every which way: remembering all the good years Gary and I had together, reflecting on my current contentment, anticipating what the future may hold.
And I’m practicing what I preach:
Picking up courage
I blog from time to time about picking up courage when we least feel like it. Honestly, when it comes to packing a bag and boarding a plane and flying through multiple time zones—alone—the thought of stepping away from the comforts of home can be unsettling.
And so I booked this cruise. And fought back the anxiety. And pretended to have courage. And every time I go through this process, I grow … well, braver.
I didn’t sign up for a hoard of sight-seeing excursions at the ports along the way. Instead, I plan to walk into each town with a book in my backpack, visit the significant sites, and then find a Chai tea latte and sit outdoors – reading, thinking, writing, shooting photos, people-watching.
There is the verse from Psalm 46:
Be still and know that I am God.
I am sitting—still—in this beautiful park square within the walls of Old Quebec, knowing that God is God and He has choreographed a beautiful dance for my remaining days on earth.
Slowing down while on vacation — now there’s a novel thought.
I have lost so much. And yet I have much to be grateful for. Which means I will never stop counting the gifts and all the ways God loves me.
1) Freedom to travel; 2) Recent news that family is moving back to Oregon from the Far East; 3) Melt-in-your-mouth seafood; 4) Friends and family who believe in the beauty of my dreams; 5) Interesting fellow travelers; 6) The leaf-turning beauty of this northeastern countryside; 7) Gorgeous live piano-and-violin music onboard ship.
And that’s just today. Because in actuality, the gratitude list is quite long.
Embracing being alone
A friend, whose husband died two years before Gary, once said to me, “I’m lonelier now than at the beginning.”
I didn’t get it back then, but I do now.
It’s almost as if I needed to get settled into widowhood, as if I needed the reassurance that I could manage car maintenance and travel details and our business affairs on my own. And now that those things are manageable, there’s more time to experience a bit of loneliness.
And so, I choose to embrace any discomfort that might come from being alone as I create new adventures.
And by doing so, loneliness is defeated.
You’ve heard it said, “Practice makes perfect.”
What if, when we find ourselves alone in life, we could practice gratitude, and brave-making, and slowing down, and embracing the aloneness?
Would this help carry us through lonely times?
From my experience, absolutely.