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Traveling Alone


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I'm sitting here at Dulles Airport, waiting to board my flight back to Europe in a couple of hours. And here I am crying in the waiting lounge. That's something I hadn't planned on doing - and I hate it. Still, no one seems to notice.

I've spent the last week at a writer's conference in Virginia. The setting was beautiful - red and gold leaves falling from the trees, families of deer grazing around the cabins, rays of sun dancing on the Potomac River. That is until the snow hit yesterday.

This last week I've been around people nearly all the time - during the days for the conference and through the evenings for socializing. I've done okay for the most part - talked with people, listened with interest, even laughed. Just to be alone a little, I've spent at least an hour each day walking in the woods. There were some beautiful hiking trails.

That's when the despair and longing hit me. My husband and I nearly always hiked together. We traveled together a lot too. Each day as I walked in the woods, I cried - sometimes I even howled, (as long as I knew no one was around). After that I could be with people again. The problem is that not one of those twenty or so women attending the conference were single. Each and every one had a husband or partner - and I know all of them were thinking the same thing: "I'm so glad I'm not her."

Now I'm stuck here in the airport, thinking of our last awful trip together. The one we made last summer in order to attend our eldest son's wedding in Maine. My husband was so sick, and neither of us realized - or maybe refused to accept - that he was dying. It was the worst set of flights I've ever had to endure - with continuous delays and setbacks. It's like the Powers That Be wanted to wear him down and kill him.

I've got no one at home waiting for me, except for the dog. No one looking forward to my return. No one waiting with a glass of wine and a big hug.

My loneliness and despair is so enormous right now. I just can't imagine getting through the years to come, let alone this flight.

Sorry to dump this on people, but I hate my life!


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Hi Metteline,

I am glad you are getting home safely. I am so so sad for you as you travel alone and deal with all those "couple folks". You made it through the conference, survived, the trip, and by now are probably home. I am glad we had a chance to talk when you were in Virginia. It was nice to know you were so close by. I know walking in that door will be/was so lonely...oh how I know too well. Year two is proving to be very hard for you and for me...harder than we dreamed....it is all so real. I know it is 4am there as I type this and assume you have made that lonely trip through your front door by now and will be returning to work in a little while.... but I am here and up if you wish to talk. It is 9:15pm Sunday now...Central Time. Just call anytime. Don't worry about waking me up. I am here for you.

I just got home from seeing La Boheme. A friend's daughter had a lead role in the UW production of it. I did ok until the last scene where Mimi dies and her lover is holding her in his arms. The woman on my right was in the room with me when I held Bill as he died. The one on my left understands how hard it was for me to sit through that scene. I was almost choking as I fought tears back so I would not make a scene. I was in row three in a small University music hall....could not leave and it seemed like half the town went into Madison for this production to support Caitlyn who has had a tough year. It brought back all those memories of Bill's death. We walked to the car in silence....it upset all of us as it was so well played and these friends were so much with me. We all went to dinner and could hardly eat. Then I, like you, walked in the door alone, greeted by the dog.

This is such a hard trek. Year two is a huge challenge. I admire you for going to the conference....it sounds like, at the least, it was a distraction but I know it was so hard also. Feel free to call. I am here for you.

Peace, Mary

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