Cee’s Black and White Challenge: Shadows and Reflections

Black and white photos. Cee’s black and white photo challenge: Shadows and reflections

Sharing a few of my own black and white photos with shadows. Enjoy.

Montauk
Catskills
Indian Ocean, Africa
Crete, Greece

Why Runaway Widow?

I started a blog when I traveled solo to Thailand for the one year anniversary of my husband’s death. Moving forward as a widow with travel adventures, near and far as well as writing this blog has helped in healing after loss.

Thanks for visiting my blog!  Highlight, copy and paste the link below to see my first interview as Runaway Widow.

Superstar Interviews: Runaway Widow

Loss of a Spouse: After Year 1

Moving forward as a widow after year one. Challenges and travels after grief from loss of a spouse

Walking through the construction dust and garbage bags filled with clothes, I pause to reflect on my journey after the loss of my husband.

It’s been a little over three years since that life changing event happened to me and my children.  The horrific details of that night I have forced myself not to dwell on and trained my brain, for my own sanity, to redirect my thoughts and keep moving forward.  I have done that pretty well.

Surprisingly, I still have moments of melancholy and stabs of aching pain in my heart.  It just doesn’t happen as often as it used to and I lead a pretty normal and good life most of the time.

Year 1 was really a blur.  I lived through it.  I cried.  I dealt with paperwork. I walked around in a FOG.  I clung to family and friends and familiar situations.  I tried to escape. I dealt with more paperwork.  I started a lawsuit for a wrongful death.

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Spy Trails and Memorials – right here at home

Taking a local historical tour including memorials, buildings, photos and a pub crawl. So much to see close to home.

In my town of Huntington, New York numerous signs are posted that state George Washington slept here or this was part of the Washington Spy Trail.  I had no idea what this all meant but was always a bit curious.  I’ll head to Europe or Thailand and visit historical monuments and memorials, and here I have history at my back door, so it was time to learn a bit more.

Luckily I found a walking historical tour that was right up my alley…

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Ultimate Road Trip in England: Stonehenge, Cotswolds, and Bath

Road trip in England is a challenge for us USA yanks used to driving on the right side of the road. Couple travel in England to Stonehenge, the Cotswolds, Bristol and Bath.

Renting a car in the middle of London is a challenge for us yanks who are used to driving on the right side of the road.  Instead of traffic lights it seems we were constantly challenged with traffic circles that were unlabeled.  OK, there were some traffic lights but those roundabouts scared me.  It took us almost 2 hours to drive south to Stonehenge.  I had never seen this wonder of the world and was a bit curious.

It is oddly located out in the middle of fields near the town of Amesbury. Archaeologists believe it was built between 3000 BC and 2000 BC.  Much research has been done including Radiocarbon dating which indicate Stonehenge was a burial ground and that the 2 ton blue stones, which may have been believed to have special qualities, were likely moved from Wales by lifting them and carrying them with rows of poles.  A tourist center is near the car park where some videos and artifacts are displayed, along with a gift shop and dining area.

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2 Days in London at Easter

Travel therapy continues for runaway widow with adventures in London, England.

Packing for a trip to England in early April can be tricky. Will it be cold? Will it be warm? Well one thing is certain. It will rain. Hours before my departure I found a stylish Michael Kors black raincoat. I wrapped my olive green scarf from Thailand, complete with elephants, around my neck and tossed a few lightweight dark colored sweaters, black pants and comfy black boots in the suitcase. I reread my blog post on how to alleviate anxiety while traveling. I was ready for London.

International flights from JFK are the way to go. The roads from Long Island and the terminals are well lit and labeled. Long term parking is s bit of a maze to reach but once parked you easily board the train which circles the airport and brings you directly to your terminal.

We flew Virgin Atlantic and the overall experience was fine. We had a nice selection of movies to watch, 2 small meals on the direct flight to London and unlimited cocktails!

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Montauk in Winter – Overnight retreat or spa day

Day trips or overnights to the off season beach town of Montauk New York is well worth the visit. Hotels are affordable, the food is good and the ocean soothes the soul. Hiking is free and the ocean air or day at Gurneys spa is guaranteed to help with the healing process.

The best part about visiting Montauk in the winter is the price tag.

Off season beach towns are the best!  Montauk is one of those fishing towns that welcomes tourists for the few summer months with hotels, restaurants, mini-golf and shops and then puts closed for season signs on the windows in the winter for many of the businesses.

The ocean changes it’s personality day by day, and season by season.  Water can be calm and soothing to the soul, it can reflect inner turmoil with waves of fury, or it can create waves that escalate into grand crescendos and softly release and melt back into sea with few ever having witnessed the moment. Watching the sea is one of my favorite things to do.  And in the winter, you can even afford an oceanfront room so you can watch from inside with a cup of coffee in your favorite pajamas and slippers!

Visiting Montauk with family in the summer is ideal.  If you need a girlfriend spa weekend getaway this is a perfect location for indulging in spa activities while even staying for an overnight.  If it is the romantic night away, Montauk is the place.  And even if you are alone, and need a day to reflect and rejuvenate your life, an overnight in Montauk can do the trick.

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Road Trip across the U.S.A. and a heart necklace

The silver heart necklace was shining in the Wyoming late afternoon sun on my September 18th birthday in 1987.  Mike and I were driving across the country from New York to California – everyone wanted to do it, but we actually were.

We had spent the past week engaging in a variety of adventures with family and friends.

We left New York and after a few hours needed to take a break in Pennsylvania. It had been a busy time the night before, saying goodbye to our respective New York friends.  We were leaving.  We were making a life together and taking a big leap – all the way across the country.

We arrived late in south Detroit, took the monorail around the city and into Windsor, Canada, then stayed with my cousin.  We all went to dinner and talked far into the night about life, dreams and our futures.

Our next stop was Madison, Wisconsin.  We stayed in the city and listened to a singer in the hotel lounge.  I was impressed with how clean the city was and I know I loved the cheese .

Driving west we planned to camp in South Dakota and visit Mount Rushmore and that Devil’s Tower from the movie “Close Encounter of the Third Kind”.  We must have left later than we should have because we arrived at the camp ground in the Badlands late at night.

There were no street lights.  We found what we thought could be a spot on the side of the road and started to set up a tent.

Soon we heard the howls of coyotes and could even see the glowing eyes in the dark.  Felt much safer once safely inside our secure fabric tent. When we woke up the next morning it seemed like we had arrived on the planet Mars.  The Badlands of South Dakota are desolate, bare and mysterious.

Badlands South Dakota
Badlands, South Dakota

Badlands South Dakota
Badlands South Dakota

Mount Rushmore was fun to visit and  we traveled west toward Yellowstone National Park.  We opted to stay in a modest motel in Montana and enjoyed driving into the park early in the morning to see Old Faithful Geyser and wild elk on the road.

Next was a visit to the Grand Tetons and a horseback riding climb into mountains. I used to ride horses quite a bit but I believe that this was our first (and last) time ever riding together.  The views in the mountains were amazing.

Mount Rushmore South Dakota
Mount Rushmore

Old Faithful Yellowstone National park
Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

Grand tetons Wyoming road trip
Grand Tetons, Wyoming

We arrived into Jackson Hole, Wyoming on my birthday.  I had the best spinach and feta cheese omelette and Mike bought me a silver heart necklace.  I wore it for a long time.

road trip across the USA WyomingIMG_2728

After Jackson Hole, we went to visit relatives in Denver.  We did laundry and had a fun drive in the Model T car then continued on to Aspen where I had spent the previous ski season waitressing, skiing and making new friends. I gathered the rest of my belongings I had left with coworkers then we got back on the road to California.

Road trip USA Aspen Colorado
Maroon Bells, Aspen

We headed south following our Rand McNally map book of the USA.  I convinced Mike we should see the Grand Canyon so that was the next stop.  We did not stay long, just long enough to take a few photos

road trip across the USA Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon

Next stop was Nevada.  We did not see Las Vegas on this trip but did manage to find a diner that had slot machines we could try.

We arrived in California late one September evening.  The smog was heavy.  The heat was unbearable, 108 degrees and then … we experienced a huge earthquake on October 1, 1987 with its epicenter in Whittier, Ca.

The next morning we drove my red Ford Mustang down to San Diego.  The highway had red and yellow flowers blooming on the median.  The apartments with pools and tennis courts were affordable and the beaches with the 3 mile long boardwalk beckoned us.  We moved into a small one bedroom place with a dark orange rug and my U-haul box filled with photo albums and some clothes.

That was all we needed to get started on our life together.

I still remember our innocence, hope and that pretty little silver necklace from Wyoming. This will be my 3rd birthday without him as a widow. While I am moving forward with out him with lots of support, he will always be in my heart and missed.

Finding that necklace brought all the fond memories of that September back to me. One of my favorite gifts ever.

Amazon Gift Cards

The night my husband died

The night my husband died changed my life. Life after the death of a spouse. Life keeps going for the people left behind. Sudden tragic death and complicated grief.

We stood watching on my front deck as the second ambulance arrived across the street. My erratic neighbor shouted up to me, “IT LOOKS LIKE YOUR HUSBAND!”

No one ever believes anything he says but then I realized I had not seen Mike since he left the beach about 45 minutes ago. We had been having a lovely conversation with an older woman who thought we were a Friday evening senior citizen group. He was charming and engaged her with questions about the winters that she spends in Key West in an RV. I had left them to help my friend take a panoramic photo of the awe inspiring simultaneous sunset and full moon rise.

When I returned back to my dusk ladened circle of friends, Mike had left. The rest of us packed up the chairs, towels and coolers and headed back to my second floor front deck before the gnats got too hungry on the beach.

While this neighbor may not be that reliable, I quickly left the deck and ran to find Mike.  He must be in the den watching T.V. in his favorite green chair. When he wasn’t there I skipped steps up to our bedroom where my bed was eerily still made. It wasn’t unusual for him to make an “Irish exit” and head off to bed without telling anyone, but there was no sign of him.

By the time I got back to the deck the first ambulance was leaving and the DJ had started playing music again for the people at the party across the street. Doug and Karen, my next door neighbors who were still on my deck, told me to get in their car. Off we sped to the hospital.

Karen held my hand and attempted to reassure me as I squeezed her fingers. We rushed into the ER and gave reception the name of our beach community house where the ambulance had come from. They directed us to a room and I told Doug to go in first while Karen and I held onto each other.

I recognized the doctor who had been in the ambulance. I had taught his son kindergarten 15 years ago. I asked “what happened?” He stopped, shocked to recognize me. He replied, “we couldn’t get his heart started”. Then he walked away.

Doug came out of the room and nodded to us. We all walked in together, the 2 of them supporting me. I saw my husband laying on the table. He was still barefoot and in his bathing suit. He had his faded blue t-shirt on and it was definitely his face with the scruffy gray, been vacationing for 2 weeks, bearded look. As I walked closer I was relieved to see that his eyes were open. I thought he must be OK. But as I touched his arm, and felt that reassuring bicep muscle that always made me feel safe, I noticed his eyes were open, but he wasn’t really there.

Why was he not moving? Why was there a big bump on his head and bloody scrapes on his knees? This could not be happening, I yelled, “WAKE UP!”

Late that evening, after I had left the hospital and my family had gathered around me, I was confused to hear more details of that evening.  The police had met us at the hospital and told us they would be coming by my house later.  An investigation had begun outside the party house by the beach.  Witnesses were being questioned. It was going to be a long night.

Once home I made the most difficult phone call of my life.  My 18 year old son was away at college – far away in another state. He had only been there for one week.

When I called, his phone had died so I went to voice mail.  I called the dorm.  I asked the R.A. to have him call me as soon as he got home.  When he called back I told him that his father had died.  It was cardiac arrest.

We just had not understood why his heart had stopped, until the next day.

Video evidence later would show that 2 men attacked my husband at this party.  He had gone over to use the bathroom at the beach community house. Apparently he walked through the party area where food was being served and these men had pushed him out.  An altercation ensued and the 2 men were taped sitting on my husband.

 

When he stopped moving, they had left him, lying on the ground next to a group of 16 year olds eating dinner.  No one helped him.  Twenty minutes later 911 was called and responded to the party.  Although efforts were made, the EMTs could not get his heart started. His time of death was recorded in the hospital.

Rumors arose that the 2 men who attacked my husband were connected somehow with the local police.  No arrests were made.  The next day it was as if nothing had happened.

Mike’s brother and I pursued a wrongful death lawsuit against the 2 men. The civil suit took almost 3 years.  I had to relive that night over and over again. In the end I was awarded some money.  Having 2 sons in college and now running my household on only one income was challenging.  I am glad that we went through the process.  We won.  But it was difficult.

Five years later I still suffer from unexpected grief triggers, especially when it comes to reports of police brutality and corruption.

You can runaway for a while, but it still hits you like a knockout punch at times.  Grief may never go away.  We just can’t live in it.

Sometimes we just need to remember the ones we’ve lost.

the night my husband died
The night my husband died changed my life. Life after the death of a spouse. Life keeps going for the people left behind. Sudden tragic death and complicated grief.

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