Remember when you were a kid, on the first day back at school, you'd have to write "what I did on my summer vacation?"  I remember always thinking mine was boring.  I went to day camp, lugged a back pack up a steep hill, that seemed to never end, ate a gross lunch, and was afraid I'd get a tick.  Also, that I'd drown in the pool.  Looking back I realize how lucky I was to go to camp!  Now people ask me how my first summer without Mike is going.  Well, I made a commitment to do what we would have done together, take road trips, have fun.

At least once a day I get asked the dreaded question.  "How are you?"  Don't get me wrong, I love when people check up on me.  This question can come from someone who doesn't know my husband died, someone in business, that I haven't spoken to in a while, who hasn't heard, so, what to say?  My standard answer is "fine," and then deflect back to them, "how are you"?  Then there are the people that know.  "So, how are you doing?"  Now, it has a different inflection, kind of sad, or they're struggling because they feel bad and don't know what to say.  Then I usually make a joke, like, "well, my husbands dead, but my hairs clean, and my earrings match, so that's a win."  The truth is, it's just not an easy answer. 

Grief is not linear, there's no race to the finish line.  It's forever, so the object of the game is navigation.  It can hit you at any moment.  Sometimes someone will just say "sorry to hear about your husband", and I'll burst into tears.  Today, someone came into my office that didn't know.  He asked how I was, and I said "fine, how are you?"  Then (for reasons unknown) he went into a monologue about how fantastic he was because he's a runner, and he's so healthy, because he's a runner, and everything amazing, because he's a runner.  It was obnoxious.  And then, (much to my own surprise, because I'm usually not so blunt), this popped out of my mouth. "My husband was a runner, and now he's dead".  Yes, I actually said that.  I wasn't upset, I didn't start to cry, I just said it.  Obviously, I shocked the guy and I apologized, I didn't mean to put a damper on his running health.  I assured him that Mike didn't drop dead while running.  It was kind of funny. 

As we go through life we are bound to have grief at some point, one way or another.  The most important thing to remember, at least for me, is that grief is the price we pay for love.  No love, no grief.  A lot of love, a lot of grief.  I think it's worth it.  I saw an instagram post that described grief as absorption, adjustment and acceptance.  I think that's pretty accurate. 

So I stuck to my goal of summer fun and road trips, small ones, day trips, an overnight here and there.  Mike and I did that a lot, sometimes planned, sometimes spontaneous.  I feel like I'm doing it for both of us now.  My husband was an expert at having fun and he left me that legacy.  When I'm laughing I feel like I'm honoring him.  Important to note: grief and fun can coexist. 

Aside from all the big intense feelings that come with the loss of a partner, I also miss the little things, the dumb minutia of everyday life around the house.  Think about what your partner does for you on a daily basis and if you haven't already, thank them!

For example;  Mike loved taking care of the pool.  He was like a mad scientist with his little chemical mixing set.  Before he switched to law he studied marine biology, so he appointed himself Mike Cousteau when it came to the pool.  OK, so I hired a pool guy, that was an easy one. 

But then there's my nemisis, THE TRASH.  For some reason, no matter how many reminders I set, or sticky notes I post, I cannot remember to put the trash out on Friday mornings.  So at 6:30 AM when I hear the (very noisy) trash trucks barreling up my hill, I leap out of bed and make a run for the door.  Yes, I'm that crazy neighbor, looking like Gladys Kravetz in my pj's racing to beat the trash truck.  Every freakn' Friday.  And now it seems like they actually slow down when approaching my driveway. I think they mock me, I'm the route entertainment.  And it's not just one trash bin, no it's three.  Don't know how it is where you live but we have one for regular trash, one for landscape trash and one for recycling trash.  I only have two hands!  And no, for all you smarties, I can't put them out the night before because then the coyotes, raccoons, and other critters will come and tip them over for a late night snack.  

Then there are the poor humming birds. Mike religiously made hummingbird nectar and filled the feeders as soon as they we're empty.  Now they're circling, and humming, "where the hell is that guy?" 

And oh, the fireplace, it's wood burning.  Mike loved getting free fire wood.  Anytime he'd see a neighbor had cut a tree down he'd be filling up the car.  He was like a kid in a candy store. We have the biggest wood pile in the neighborhood.  Lets' not forget this is Southern CA.  The logs I have aren't split.  I used one one night and it never went fully out, it smolderd inside and set off the CO2 detectors at 2 AM, that was fun.  So unless someone would like to stop by with an axe, I'll be using Duralogs from now on.

Summer adventures so far, have all been road trips not too far from home.  Ojai, Summerland, San Luis Obispo, Las Vegas, Solvang, Santa Barbara, my backyard, and our land in Joshua Tree, 2 empty acres of a few Joshua trees and many, many tumbleweeds.  I've managed to avoid Covid, and I haven't been on an airplane since, but stay tuned for bigger adventures to come.  Here's a few pictures of summer.  I love taking pictures, hope you enjoy them...

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