I have very few regrets about our marriage. I refuse to beat myself up about time wasted with stupid squabbles. I’m also not going to be sad about the times I went out with friends or took a class instead of being with him. We lived our lives with every experience shaping us into who we were as a couple. Our years together were not perfect, but every minute was spent in love.
My only regret involves Canada. I’ve written about finally taking the exit to see Niagra Falls, like every story, there’s more to it. In 2002, if we would have taken the exit, we could have walked or driven to Canada. All we needed were our driver’s licenses to cross the border. Ten years later, in 2012, when we finally went, we needed passports to cross over, which we did not have.
“I’ve always wanted to leave the United States,” Scott said, looking across the river at Canada.
“I know. Next year, we’ll come back. Next year, we’ll have passports,” I reassured. “At least we get to see it!” That day, we were thirty-three, healthy, and had many years ahead of us.
Four months after that conversation, the doctors found the aggressive, rare cancer that plagued his body. Scott was too sick to travel and he died fifty three weeks after that conversation. He never got a passport, and never left the United States. He SAW Canada, but never crossed the border. That conversation, that day, was my big regret. Why didn’t we have passports? We lived in Maine for eight years. Why didn’t we cross the border? What was so important, we let it stop us from going?
For too many years, we saved dreams for the future. For too many years we were practical. For too many years, we didn’t take the risks in life we set out to take. We wasted too many years of our lives with practical excuses.
Soon after Scott died, I promised him, myself, and our kids that I would show our kids a life full of opportunity and risks. I vowed that every year, we would do at least one thing to honor Scott’s dreams and life. In 2014, I bought the family passports.
2015 came, and halfway through it, I realized that once again, I was living in fear. We owned passports and they sat in a file, unused. In order to truly live, I had to face my fears of crossing border with my kids, and make it happen.
A few months ago, I booked a hotel room in Winnipeg, MB, Canada. I had no intention of keeping the reservation because I would have to take the kids on our first road trip since losing Scott, alone. I didn’t tell anyone about it. The days approached, and the reasons why we couldn’t go, were one by one taken off the table. Ten days before the trip, I knew the only thing that was stopping us was my fear. I could not let fear keep us from this opportunity.
I told the kids. I made sure the pets were taken care of while we were gone. It was time to make it happen, so I did, despite my fears that made me sick to my stomach.
We arrived in Winnipeg on a Saturday afternoon. We had less than three days there, but we vowed to fully live while we were there. We hiked, swam, and walked around museums, despite rain and ash.
This trip was different for us since Scott’s death. It was a real adventure, a new experience we shared together. We missed Scott and talked about him the whole time, however, we did not cry with every fun experience. We loved Canada, and the world opened up for our family. It also opened up for me. This trip taught me I can can take our kids on adventures, and I’m brave enough to do them alone.
On our final day, I was walking around a museum that Scott would have loved. As I walked, I missed him so much my heart ached more than the daily pains of long-term grief. I was just about to cry in public, which I HATE to do, when I spotted something. On the Wall of Hope, someone filled out a card and had Scott’s way of printing his name. That is when I knew that he traveled with us. In his own way, he saw Canada.