I had the particular pleasure of floating around the Caribbean with my son and his beloved on a big boat during the Christmas holidays.  Seven islands in nine days.  They each were unique and lovely to behold and visit, if only for a few hours.

This was my first cruise.  I was apprehensive and frequently overwhelmed.

The boats are BIG.  As you have heard, if you have not yet cruised, there is good food everywhere.  There are places to spend your money everywhere and that is the reality that keeps the cruise industry afloat:  the economy around cruise adventures is very robust.

When we are in a place where all our needs are being met, we can get the mistaken idea that we have nothing to fear, that all will be well, and we might as well spend what we have or don’t have.

I spent too much. I now have two new necklaces in my jewelry boxes: ones that I would never have purchased if I had stayed stateside.  They are beautiful.  I may wear them a dozen or more times and I will probably pass them on to my granddaughters.  I enjoy looking at them and straightened up my jewelry boxes to make room for them.  They are the nicest pieces I have ever had, but they are not nearly so treasured as are the pieces given to me as gifts by my late husband and a few dear friends over the years.  Much like the ornaments on the Christmas tree,  the sentimental ones are the most precious.

There was a unique benefit to the cruise and that was that it gave me time to think without being interrupted by work or things that I had to do.  So I did a lot of thinking and feeling also:  mostly about my state of grief as I continue to mourn the loss of my husband, Lewis.

I thought about the many trips we had taken together, the life we had, the future that we had been building together, and how it now is a solitary one for me.  That is the toughest reality.  We built our lives with the thought that we would be together and did not really consider the possibility that one of us would not be here. 

He had always promised me that he would outlive me:  I did occasionally bring up my anxiety about losing one another someday and this was the solace he offered my fear.   I think he wanted to believe that he would always be here to protect me.

As a matter of fact, I used to fantasize that if the day would come when we were losing our faculties so badly that life was no longer worth living for one of us that we would decide to take an overdose of some strong medicine, lie in bed next to one another and softly embrace while slipping into slumber in each other’s arms.

I could not think of another way to deal with the loss of each other. But I never shared this fantasy with him, knowing these are unacceptably dark thoughts.

Profound grief found its way to me on the cruise and it has been my companion again in the days that follow it. One reason is because my work load is lighter and I have had more time to myself now that I have returned to my daily routine.

I know I needed this time and that if my budget would have allowed it, I would have done better, perhaps, to have taken a few weeks away from work in those days that followed his death. Instead, I went back to the work that was familiar and reassured me that life had not stopped and that I could somehow go on.

I know that now.

And I still grieve.

And count my daily blessings.