Tomorrow B and I leave for 11 days on the beach in Rhode Island. Hurray! We have no agenda, no schedule -- just bathing suits, seafood, and a stack of books.
The genesis of this now annual trek across the country is a silver lining story. As I have mentioned, T had a son, D, from a previous relationship. D's mother grew up in Philadelphia, and her family owned property across the street from the beach in Rhode Island. (As I'm getting tired of using a single letter naming convention, let me call her Tall Blonde, or TB, because she is in fact quite tall, and blonde.) TB and I were always friendly when T was alive, but T was the primary conduit for planning and execution of all things related to D, so I didn't have much of a relationship with her. She was always very gracious and thoughtful, though, saving D's baby things in case T and I had a child, then welcoming B with open arms and no apparent jealousy.
Then T died. Instantly, TB and I were alone in the world, as it were, raising the children of T without him. We quickly formed a bond not unlike close family, helping each other out, celebrating holidays and birthdays together, ensuring the kids have a strong sibling relationship because each was the only sibling the other would have. Admittedly it's a little weird, and I wouldn't have necessarily picked her as a close friend in other circumstances, but I so appreciate TB's straightforwardness, lack of drama and emotional baggage, and open-hearted generosity. (What do I call her? My parallel parent? Co-parent or parenting partner sound too intimate. I haven't found the right terminology to properly explain our relationship.)
That first summer after T died, TB invited B and me to join her and D at the family place in Rhode Island. Sure, I said, feeling like it wouldn't matter if I were on the moon, I was so numb. But I had a very pleasant time, being pampered a little by her family, people who had met T a few times but didn't have the same experience of loss that TB and I did. Last year we went again, since it worked so well the first time. By this year, it's become an annual event, and one I am very grateful for.
I can't help but wonder, though, what will happen when I'm in a relationship again. I imagine we'll stop going ... and I'll be a bit sad. But in a strange way, I can imagine I might be glad, too, to have something else to do with a new love, putting the haven I needed after T died behind me. But I'll cross that bridge when I get there.