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The following story was shared by one of our Voyages Ideal Facebook friends. In order to respect her privacy, we will call her Lori. Although this is Lori's story, you may be able to relate or reflect upon this as having a similar experience. That is what sharing is all about.
Lori was married to Jack for 40 years. They loved to travel and had taken their son and daughter on various trips abroad as well as an annual winter ski trip they looked forward to all year long.
We all have our plans for when we retire and while some of us make it to retirement and live out those dreams, others don't.
Jack was preparing to retire and give up his partnership in an accounting firm and Lori had already left behind many years of being a teacher.
One Sunday, Jack went golfing with his friends as he always had while Lori relaxed at the cottage. When Jack returned he complained about a sore leg. He said it was throbbing and he could feel pins and needles spiking through the bone. They wrote it off as a strain from too much walking and pulling his clubs (Jack was in excellent shape and rarely rode a cart on the course). They fell into their regular Sunday afternoon routine - lunch on the deck overlooking the flower garden and the lake.
A few days later Jack started to feel the pain in his leg again however this time it was from his ankle to his groin and it was much more intense and severe, so much so that he decided to bite the bullet and go wait in the emergency room. Lori met him there and after five hours in the waiting room and two hours in an ER bed having blood taken and being brought for all sort of imaging tests, the one physician that was on duty arrived at Jack's bed and told him he was providing him with a reference to see a specialist. He handed a disc over to Lori and then said, "I'm sorry but it looks like bone cancer but you need to see this specialist (pointing to the referral slip) and he can provide you with more information and treatment".
Three months later Jack was gone. Lori describes it as being "surreal - all of the sudden I was alone - I'd toss and turn in bed and place my hand where Jack use to lay beside me - I'd call his cell phone during the day forgetting he was not on the other end and unable to cancel the contract because that would be admitting he was gone and I would never talk to him again - Yes - I have children to check in on me and to comfort me but my daughter lives in another city and has a family of her own to care for and my son lives here but is divorced and had been laid off from work so he couldn't bare any more. I realized I was on my own for the first time in over 40 years and it scared me - it really scared me."
Lori had to bring herself to give Jack's clothes and shoes away and to start packing up some of his belongings that would be thrown away. She was looking at his favourite leather jacket and decided she would keep it and wear it even though it was too large for her and as she tried it on in the mirror and smelled his sweet scent on the collar, she reached in the pocket and found an itinerary, e-tickets and everything about their trip abroad in one single envelope. He was going to surprise her with this gift, she later learned upon contacting their Travel Professional (Agent) who had been booking Jack's corporate travel as well as their family leisure travel all those years.
Having never travelled alone, Lori was weary but she knew that Jack would have wanted her to go and enjoy herself and take her mind off things. So Lori called her children and informed them of her plans to leave on a three-week tour of Europe.
She then visited their travel professional (we'll call her Mary), who in many ways doubled as a therapist. Mary had been managing and planning their travel for so long that she knew everything about them and their children and what they wanted out of a travel experience and how to provide them with the service and support they deserved.
Mary felt awful about Jack and she wanted to do something for Lori so she called up the group that her agency was partners with and asked if Lori could receive some upgrades as well as tickets to a sold out Neil Diamond concert in Paris knowing that Lori and Jack had loved his music.
The day Lori left, she had mixed emotions. It's hard for someone to imagine what it would be like to lose the person closest to them in the world. This is someone you've shared the most important years of your life with and who finished your sentences and was the father of your children and who ordered in Sushi with you on Saturday nights and stayed home and enjoyed it while watching a movie instead of heading out to a busy, noisy place because you loved being together and being together was enough. This is someone you thought you were going to have by your side your entire life or at least most of it. So as Lori boarded the plane and took her seat and thought for a second Jack was beside her already starting to read the The Wall Street Journal and talking about this and that - she then realized a complete stranger was beside her and she was about to venture out on her own in places that would be full of strangers. It was not a good feeling.
Lori missed Jack every day, but she also learned something new and saw something incredible and ate something delicious and actually started to have a good time. Each night when she returned to her hotel room, she would talk to Jack before going to bed. She'd tell him about all the places she visited and include detailed information on the architecture that he so loved and had only seen in books and had hoped to see on this very trip. And although he didn't answer back, she felt he was listening from somewhere out there.
One day she was sitting at a table at a bistro in Paris. There was a piping hot, soft, buttery croissant on her plate and a creamy rich espresso in a tiny cup. There was the sun and the flower beds surrounding the deck and she was so thankful she had chosen to take the trip. "Travel saved my life" she said.
Had she stayed at home with all the memories of Jack in the house - the material ones, the ones that shouldn't matter like his coat hanging on the hook by the front door and his golf clubs in the garage and his car in the driveway and his Blackberry on his night table - she would have sunken into a depression and possibly not felt the need to go on . Her children would feel guilty about her being alone and her daughter would come in for longer than she had and have to take care of Lori plus her own family. Her son would have more stress placed upon him than he already did with his x wife grabbing all his money and his son dropping out of college and his girlfriend pressuring him to marry her.
The thing is that life just goes on. People die and we miss them and we long to see them again. We never forget them and we always love them but they are no longer present and so time passes and after a while, life just seems to happen.
Travel is therapy. Travel enriches us, comforts us and provides us with a new sense of what is and what will be. It picks us up and transports us to somewhere new and interesting and it rejuvenates our spirit and our souls.
Travel comes in many forms. It's a force. It's a movement.
And it may just save your life.
Voyages Groupe Ideal - Ideal Travel
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