Every time my husband, Peter and I traveled together, we would settle into our seats on the airplane. As the plane took off, he would lace my much smaller fingers cozily into his sizable digits. As the plane climbed upward, we would grip each other’s hand, sometimes tighter than blood flow allowed, especially if the level of bumpiness was off the charts! We always continued to clutch hands until the plane safely reached its altitude. As we got older, we amended the pattern to holding each other’s hands just until we leveled off, saving on circulation woes. This tradition was comforting and made each of us feel safe and secure with the stress of flying.
The tradition started on our honeymoon. We had just been married in a small ceremony of twelve people. Peter was dressed in his preppy finest grey suit, wearing a white boutonnière of freesia, my favorite flower. I, on the other hand, was wearing a white brocade miniskirt and Courrège boots, with some ridiculous pillbox hat that made me look like a cross between the model Twiggy and a bellhop. Even though it was the sixties, what was I thinking? Note, said pic included. Insert laughter here!
We had only known each other four months. We met on October 17, 1967, got engaged on December 21st, and were married on February 11th. We each were aware that cupid had struck us big time with a soul mate’s arrow. We were instantly best friends, and it turned out it was dumb luck that we had found each other by a fluke encounter.
After a very brief wedding, where the Rabbi shook more than either of us, concluding with a repulsively raw beef wellington (insert burp and nausea), we flew to Nassau’s Paradise Island. Huntington Hartford had just opened what was purported to be the most luxurious hotel called The Ocean Club. Our honeymoon suite, however, turned out to be two twin beds racked together sideways with a lump in the middle. So much for luxury. On the flight down, we began the hand clutch that would be our takeoff and landing tradition for 47 years. On some occasions, we even clutched hands across the aisles as the flight attendants scowled at us.
Since Peter died, I am literally and figuratively flying solo. The synonyms for solo are alone and solitary (so sad), unaccompanied (sounds like I need a tag to fly as a minor), unescorted (hoping for an escort soon), unattended (but I am attended by so many friends and family), unchaperoned (not a chance of a chaperone at this age), unaided (does early boarding count?), and my favorite, independently, which gives me the hope that I am growing. In the two years since Peter died, I have learned, from the over 70 plus blogs I have written, and the countless hours of grief I have slogged through, that I have found the strength to do solo pretty well. I have found the power to love me, myself, and I, and take her with me as I fly commercial airlines, or as I fly emotionally on my way to finding my new acceptably different, and hopefully positive future existence.