I just got back from a weeklong stay in the Caribbean. I was fortunate enough to go with four of my best girlfriends to an island I dubbed Trauma Island.
I call it Trauma Island because about five years ago, one of my girlfriends broke off her engagement a few weeks before her wedding and the only thing she couldn't get a refund on was her honeymoon. The bridesmaids talked her into still going and we ended up having a pretty good time. We joked back then that it was very "Sex in the City" of us. You know, the movie where Carrie doesn't get married and all the girls go with her on her non-honeymoon.
Of course, my friend was struggling at the time but we tried our best to cheer her up and if you can't find happiness on a beautiful white sand beach with a beverage in your hand, then things are really bad. She had her moments but overall she had some time away to start healing.
When Jeff died, people said I should go away on a trip to help me heal. I couldn't imagine going somewhere new and making new memories and always knowing that these memories and this trip and these souvenirs are all because my husband died. So I got in my head that I should go to a place I had been before because the memories of that place would be blurred with the previous trip. I didn't want to go to a place that I had been to with Jeff though. And then, Trauma Island came to mind. I broached the idea to my girlfriends and they all thought it was perfect. We ended up booking the same exact hotel we stayed in before and it just felt right.
I laid on a beach for six days. I had my moments, but overall it was just what the doctor ordered. Just getting away from it all for a while helped me truly relax. We ended up meeting some locals and one of them had lost his wife to breast cancer five years ago. After five days of running into them and chatting and them knowing why we were really there, they offered to cook us a real Caribbean meal. How could we turn that down? I was able to chat with the widower and he gave me some good advice.
There is something about meeting a fellow widow/widower and sharing experiences that just makes me feel understood. There is an unspoken, immediate connection, especially meeting a fellow widow/widower who has lost their spouse to cancer. Even in one of the most beautiful settings in the world, cancer seems to find a way to ruin lives. I really hate cancer for making, not only me, but others, widows/widowers.
On the way back home we had a 24 hour layover in New York. We chose to go to the World Trade Center Memorial and boy did that really put things in perspective for me. So many people lost on that tragic day. But sometimes, if you look at something in the right light and angle, you can see the beauty that still exists in such darkness. It doesn't always have to be all darkness and tragedy. That memorial is so peaceful and beautiful.
I try to remember in my darkest moments how much I am loved. I miss the love Jeff gave me and I miss the opportunity to show my love towards him but I try to keep in mind that he still loves me and I still love him, and not only that, but so many other people love me and I love them. I try to see the peace and beauty through the darkness.
Trauma Island did it's job. It has helped to heal again. I love that island for what it's done, but I really hope that we never have to go back, because that just means someone close to me has experienced a life changing trauma that requires an enormous amount of healing. But it's nice to know that if it's necessary, Trauma Island will always be there to help begin the healing process.