If you’ve been following along here or listening to the podcast, you know that Brad and I planned to go on an epic cross country trip together. Before we could leave, we were waiting for the scan that showed his treatment was working. That showed stability. The scan that said he would live a little longer. The scan that never came.
We thought we could make it. Thought he would make it. We put a deposit down on an RV, aptly named “The Gemini.” We talked about painting it and adding the Defending Your Life logo on the side. We planned our route. We would circle the country and visit places he’s lived. Converse with old friends. Make new friends. We wanted to podcast and document the journey. Show us living courageously while talking with other people on how they, too, live courageously. I would drive and he would write. We would listen to music and have adventures and live our life as fully as possible. We had a plan.
I now have to make new plans. The reality is, this road trip was just one of many plans we counted on that will never come to life. One of thousands of dreams and ideas and ambitions we discussed. It is part of a future that no longer exists. My future now looks wildly different. My future is unrecognizable.
After Brad passed away, I knew I still had to take this road trip. Not the exact trip we planned (buying an RV now seems outrageously irresponsible), but something that could partially mimic it. I’m not entirely sure why I feel the need to embark on this solo journey. Maybe because I just want to escape and run away. Maybe because I feel I owe it to Brad. Maybe because I just can’t accept the fact that I am supposed to make new plans and instead would rather cling to my old plans, our plans. Maybe I just need to share - and write - our story. Maybe I just need to honor Brad. I don’t know. Maybe it’s all of these reasons and a 100 others I don’t fully realize.
But in 10 days I am getting on the road. Leaving on the first day of spring.
Brad loved significant dates. He loved the equinox. The idea of a refresh. A new season. He proposed to me on the first day of fall. We got married a year later on that same date. Our anniversary date was rotating with the fall equinox, changing slightly each year, depending on the sun. “It’s gross how romantic it is,” Brad used to tell people.
So now on the spring equinox, I’ll be embarking on this new season of my life (it's gross how cliche it is). Generally, I feel lost in my life. Lost at home. Unsure of what to do and where to go. I’m hoping escaping for a bit will give some clarity, some sense of my next steps. If nothing else, it will give me an adventure. If there is one thing Brad and I loved together, it was an adventure.
And because you can’t just have a soul searching road trip without some bigger purpose (thank you Brad for your influence to always go beyond yourself and think bigger), in addition to writing, I am hoping to continue podcasting for Defending Your Life in a variety of ways.
First, I want to have conversations with other people like me. Conversations with both cancer survivors and other widows (I have the unfortunate distinction of being a member of both clubs). The topic of each conversation will be how you live courageously in the face of cancer and/or loss and how do you find joy during your darkest moments. Two concepts I am currently struggling with. How do you go through this and make it out on the other side??
I’d also love to keep podcasting about Brad, his influence, and his life. Talk to friends and family (both those I know and others I don’t). I want all the Brad stories. Even better if those stories come with a couch I can crash on.
And finally there will probably be some “I’m all alone in the desert, what the fuck was I thinking?” solo podcasts. Because let’s face it, I am utterly unprepared (both emotionally and physically) to go on the road for the next two months and the combination of insanity, unpreparedness, and grief has got to lead to some stellar podcast content.
At the end of the day, I really see this trip as a search for joy and meaning - two things Brad and I proudly lived our lives by. And ever since Brad died, I feel like I’ve lost both. I'm hoping to stumble upon them somewhere along the way.
The rough route. Who has an extra place for me to stay?