Three plus years ago my husband died. When he was diagnosed with blood cancer, we were both shocked as he felt and looked healthy. That’s how deceiving blood cancers are. After a successful bone marrow transplant, he succumbed to a complication known as Graft VS Host Disease.

I thought I knew grief after losing my parents, siblings, and a few good friends. I did not. Losing my spouse was a deeper and more intense grief. Four months after my husband’s death, I joined an excellent grief support group.  On the first night I attended, I remember thinking “these are my people.” With the camaraderie of my group members, the wisdom of the speakers’ messages, the guidance of the facilitators, and the support and love of family and good friends, I slowly began to heal.

Am I “over it” now? No, and never will be. When you spend fifty plus years with your spouse, you will never get “over it.” You adjust. You learn to live without your person, your constant companion, who one had your back as you had theirs. One of my friends who also lost her husband said, “I’m no longer number one in anyone’s life,” which hit me. It’s a truth no one wants to realize. But I’m in a good place now, good enough to make a major move. And major it was.

This summer I sold my house which had become too much for me to manage and moved from the frigid winters of Minnesota to the heat and humidity of Florida in August. After three winters of cabin fever, not even able walk my dog in my neighborhood on the icy streets, and the stress of driving on iffy snowy roads I was ready to move south.

Moving sucks. Period. The worst part was getting rid of things from a four-bedroom house that I didn’t want to take with me or be able to fit into a two-bedroom apartment. It was so much work, but I did it in less than two months only with the help of my daughter, her brother and sister-in-law and a very good friend. Through the process I donated six carloads to a charity, sold a few things, gave away furniture, filled a dumpster, a Vietnam Vets’ truckload, and also filled a College Hunks truck. I hired a moving company to transport my things, and after the van left, I drove to a dear friend’s house to spend the night, then headed to my daughter’s in Illinois for a much needed week of rest and unwinding.

Because my grandson was also moving to Fort Myers to attend FGCU as a freshman; my son-in-law, two grandsons and I made the trek from Chicago to Florida together. On a warm Saturday morning, I put the dog in the car and with one grandson riding shotgun, I followed my son-in-law’s truck out of the driveway and for the first time ever drove on Chicago freeways, through Indiana to our first stop in Nashville. (Indiana’s a long state BTW.)

 Taking turns driving with my grandson made the eight-hour driving days tolerable. The trip from Nashville through Kentucky was a particularly scenic drive with the verdant rolling hills, mountains, and lakes. We spent the second night in Lake City, Florida, then made our way south on Highway 75 to Fort Myers where we were introduced to Florida’s heavy rains which made for a stressful drive.

Since my grandson couldn’t check into his dorm until later afternoon, my family helped me move my carload into my new apartment. They stayed with my dog when I went to the grocery store, and when I returned they had my internet up and inflatable bed inflated which I needed because I didn’t know exactly when the shipment of furniture would arrive. The next day I bought a couple of cheap camp chairs, so I had something to sit on and a few essential kitchen items, plus a small toaster and coffee maker. It was like camping in an excellent shelter, and I got along quite well on very little. However, I did miss my bed. Immensely.

My furniture arrived one week later, and as box after box was brought in, I thought why, why, why did I move all this stuff?! Although I had a new appreciation for my belongings, trying to find a spot for everything was a challenge. I have since donated two full boxes of things I shouldn’t have moved…and I could donate more.

After nearly a month, I feel settled and somewhat acclimated and am beginning to explore the area and activities to participate in. I’m excited to get involved in my new community and meet people. It feels good.


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