A pirate's life for me

We had plans, for a moment, to move to Utila, Honduras. It was our early retirement plan - wait until the boys move out and get settled on their own, then sell the house in Texas and most of our belongings, and enjoy living on a tropical beach. Maybe get a place big enough that we could rent out a room or two, run a small bed & breakfast; shecould keep doing her coaching work over the internet; retain our status as US citizens by visiting for a month every year and paying taxes, and just enjoy our time picking mangoes and running around naked in the jungle.

As you can imagine, she came up with the plan. She always had the best plans. Like the time we turned the garage into a 1920s speakeasy for Halloween. And of course, i grumbled and groaned about “not having a Hollywood budget”, and “dammit, babe, I should’ve started this project LAST Halloween”. But whether she had faith in me that I didn’t have, or she just didn’t take my bitching as anything more than the gears of progress beginning to turn, her idea came to life, through my hands. She couldn’t do much to help; chemotherapy was in full swing, and most days she was tired, but that did NOT stop her brain from storming.

She had all the best ideas. She was my creativity. So now what?

Once you’ve given space to your sadness and sense of loss, and given yourself plenty of room to grieve when you need it, you start dealing with practical issues, like how to settle bank accounts that didn’t have my name on them, or what to do with business emails for a business I was never part of. Where do I put all these clothes? Is it strange that I still have her toothbrush, and that I still keep it covered when I shave?

And these are all momentary things. What really stops you in your tracks, what really sucks your breath away, is figuring out what comes next. What about Utila? What about next Halloween? As remote and unfathomable as the idea of retirement was before, what the hell will I do with myself now? I wasn’t the idea person! I just made the ideas happen!

And yes, I’ve heard it loud and clear from everyone: “This is all still new, you have time to figure things out, you don’t have to know right now.” And you’re right, i know, i know... but knowing that there’s a plan ahead, even if it’s one that I’m probably (read:likely) going to complain about, even if it’s one that right now seems unreachable... at least there was a plan. An idea of what comes next.

But I have no ideas, because I can’t conceive of a life that doesn’t have her in it. It would almost be easier if there were a roadmap, a letter hidden in her nightstand, that says “Okay babe, I’m not here anymore, but here’s my list of things I need you to do when I’m gone...”

I’ve likened the experience to being First Mate on our own family pirate ship, and she was the Captain. And I was a really good First Mate: I could navigate, and run the crew, and keep us stocked for a long voyage, maybe even dance a jig here and there to keep everyone entertained (YOU don’t know, maybe I CAN jig!)... But the Captain always knew where the next adventure was, where to find the buried treasure, who to plunder and where to rest while the Spanish armada was looking for us. Now our Captain is gone, and while I can still run the ship... where shall we go with it?

I dunno. Maybe we drop anchor in Honduras after all.

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