Not knowing what I lost until two years after my husband died, I spent the next seven years in a quandry. Danny and I built a fun loving secure life. We had a sporty convertible, a comfortable pick up, a house full of surfboards and custom built furniture. Danny couldn’t be replaced but all the stuff could be.
With his passing the only obstacle to sail offshore by myself was also gone. He always said it was foolish to sail alone. There was no stopping me now. I found the perfect 35-foot trimaran. I flew to Guatemala to secure and sail it home. There were only two questions on my mind. Where did I want to sail to? What did I need to do to make it happen? Answering these questions left little time for anything else. My answers led me to Bermuda, Eleuthra and the Exumas.
Busy, busy, busy. Loving life. Floating on crystal clear water. Savoring the gentle breeze. Often called an ‘easy place’ to sail, my time in the Bahamas had some challenging moments. Sailing into Red Shanks, on the south side of Elizabeth Harbor I dropped the anchor. Misjudging the outgoing tide in 3 feet of water, I panicked when the boat quickly turned 180 degrees. To keep the stern from hitting the rocky shore I jumped off the starboard side and pushed with my might. But, how long would my muscles hold out. “What do I do? What do I do?,” I silently asked myself.
One of the guys in a passing dinghy jumped out. He swam with relentless vigor to my side. He held the boat while I got back on. It all happened so quickly. I put the boat in gear and aimed toward the center of the channel. I must have gotten the anchor up. It was a moment I hope to never relive. To this day that event plagues me.
Months later on a quiet, distant shore, the opportunity presented itself to leave the solo sailing world behind. For the next seven years while nurturing a new relationship, I grieved my loss of Dan. My new mate and I shared many adventures sailing and camping together. On land or on the water, I had so much free time. I didn’t have to pump the gas, set the sails, or weigh the anchor all of the time. I could if I wanted. It was just that I only had to do those things half of the time. Every chore was shared. Grocery shopping, cleaning the cars, paying the bills were only taking 50% of my time.
I read more during those years than in my whole life. I cried more, too. On those long treks across Montana, or crossing the gulf stream Danny was always on my mind. I didn’t hide the tears. They just flowed. Why didn’t I do more to save him? How can I be with someone else? These questions, I am sure, every widow asks.
Then, suddenly, as if I woke from a coma, in plain view, upon a hillside was this cute little house. It had a slanted roof like the salt box houses in New Hampshire. The inside was designed like a mountain cabin. “I’m going to buy that house,” I declared. The next day I did.
Suddenly my grief for Danny turned into fond memories. Ron and I pledged to appreciate each other’s past while spending our remaining years together as a couple. With the sun shining on the snow-capped mountains, the wind blowing across the valley below, and the fire warming our souls each night, for the first time in my life, there was nowhere else I wanted to go.