And so it begins…..we returned home to Texas yesterday, after 7 days of fun-filled adventure at Walt Disney World. The vacation, I’ve decided, was more for me than for the boys. I needed an escape from reality, a chance to leave familiar places full of memories and head to a magical place where I could feel like a kid again, instead of a 48 year old widow mourning the loss of her husband. Where better to do that than the “happiest place on earth”?
The escape was a success. Sure, we still missed Mark. Heck, he was so much fun, he would’ve loved every minute of our vacation. We rode rides, we watched stunt shows. We relaxed on the beach, built sandcastles. Watched spectacular fireworks, saw Christmas lights that were designed to dazzle and amaze us. Disney doesn’t do anything half-way, and every place we went was decorated to the hilt, beautiful through and through.
I’m still finding my way as the head of the household, even almost 5 months after his death. He was a natural born leader, always ready to forge ahead, not afraid to take the bull by the horns, wade into a sea of people, whether at the airport or at an amusement park or a strange city. My job, for years, was to hold onto Benny’s hand, and walk behind Mark and Andrew, whenever we travelled. I can picture them in my mind now, so clearly….they have the same walk, the same gait, the same long, lanky legs. They’d be hand-in-hand, in the lead, with Ben and me following behind, content knowing that Mark had it all figured out.
This time, it was me in the lead. Me with the GPS, the multiple Disney World maps, the resort information. And after a bit of hesitation in the beginning, I took the responsibility and ran with it. I did okay, although there’s still room for improvement. The best thing was that the boys trust me. They have faith in me, and that helps my confidence level tremendously. We might not have gotten to our destinations within the parks as efficiently as Mark would’ve steered us, but we got there.
Coming back into the house last night was hard. Don’t know what I was expecting, but the time away was so freeing. I slept like a baby every night. I dreamt about Mark almost every night. I have a renewed sense of knowing that he is right near by, whether we can see him or not. He’s tangible, I can sense him. He’s more alive now than he ever was while in his earthly body. But, he’s not walking with us at Disney World. He can’t take Andrew out hunting on his 10th birthday. He can’t applaud whenever Ben plays beautifully in a piano recital. He can’t talk me through all of my fears about the future.
Christmas is coming, whether I’m ready for it or not. We bought a live tree tonight, a new tradition we decided to start. It’s standing in a new spot in our den. We’ll decorate it tomorrow with a mixture of old and new ornaments. Honestly, I’m not sure what we will do as far as celebrating. I’m calling it a “quiet” Christmas, as we reflect on what we’ve lost, but are thankful for what we have. I’m sure there will be laughter, just as sure as I know there will be more than a few tears. It’s life. It’s our new normal. And whether we like it or not, it’s what we’ve got.
This journey, well, it still stinks. But I’m trying my darndest to make the best of it, our boys deserve fun and joy and laughter and will continue to flourish if I play my cards right….and keep relying on God to carry us through it.