When my friend Jim was sick, his mantra was “think big thoughts.” After he died, I wanted to keep thinking big thoughts, even in the midst of my grief. I wanted to be open to whatever big thoughts and new opportunities might be coming my way. I feared grief might cloud my vision and I would not be able to see what was being offered. So I decided to “just say yes.”
Four months after Jim died, I said “yes” to a two-week trip to Ireland. I stayed with my friend Lisa near Dublin, and she took me up to Donegal for a long weekend. Then I went on a one-week retreat on the Irish Sea coast (the picture of the sun rising at the top of this page was taken from my retreat room).
Two months later, I said “yes” to a trip to South Dakota to visit Jim’s friends Patrick and Joan. We traveled to Pine Ridge Reservation, Wounded Knee, Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse monument and even went to a pow wow.
Three months after that, my “yes” was to a long weekend in France to meet my friend Michele who was on a three-month assignment in Germany. We met in Paris, stayed in the Latin Quarter and saw the sights, including two walking tours, several museums and many churches. We also tasted some French wines and had plenty of chocolate pastries.
Then there was the trip to Asheville, North Carolina, with my friend Joanne. I had been working on a travel “bucket list” before Jim got sick and Asheville was one of the places still on my list.
Looking back at this past year, I realize how each “yes” was an opportunity to be with people who helped me process my grief. I can see how blessed I am to have so many generous people in my life—both far and near—and I am deeply grateful for their support and friendship.
Also, each new place I visited created an open space and gave me a new vantage point from which to review what has happened these past two years.
I am still grieving. My move from Pennsylvania has added a new layer of loss, and I still fear my grief will overwhelm me and shut me down. I keep praying to be open to the big thoughts and new opportunities being presented to me.
Yesterday, my friend Christine called and asked if I wanted to walk across the Mackinaw Bridge on Labor Day. It is on her bucket list. I hesitated, and then caught myself. “Just say yes,” I reminded myself. Mackinaw, here I come.