The theme that emerges from these pages is “control.” Control, as in to make the tragic events of the sudden death of a spouse of forty years to “unhappen.” This, of course, is what we all face, waking up that first day as a widow or widower. It’s the shock, the denial, the grief, even the self-pity that we all experience in those first days of mourning.
I’m about halfway between my first two solo European train adventures. A short four months ago, I was still struggling whether I could even conceive of traveling without my beloved traveling companion. With my second Eurail pass already in hand for a six week’s trip starting in March, I can foresee a point in late April when I’ll have completed The Year of Living Alone. (I capitalize only to highlight to myself that this will be the first year since I was twenty-five that I have actually lived by myself.)
In 2001 writer and humorist Calvin Trillin lost his wife Alice to heart failure. They’d been married for thirty-six years, with all their friends always telling Calvin he’d been the lucky one. Just as I knew that with Carolyn, Calvin knew it with Alice. Just as I’ve chosen to do with Carolyn, Trillin wrote about Alice.