Our favorite photo, that we always carried with us anytime we were away from one another. We thought it was the perfect photo to have at our wedding. 

After Frankie was killed, I had to go back to Hawaii to take care of our belongings --- 
I decided to stay for six months to be by myself away from everyone. Hawaii was home for our first two years of married life. Our paradise. Our blessing of a duty station.  Moving back was my way of trying to find healing, to be in a place that we loved so much and to force myself to face doing things on my own again.

I did the things we would have done, only solo most of the time. The grief was overwhelming and made me fear what was ahead sometimes, but all I had to do was go to a place I loved, or a place Frankie would have loved, (usually one in the same) and I would feel better.  The beach, a hike, to the movies, out to dinner, take a swim in the ocean, on a bike ride, or a long run.  It was strange at first doing everything on my own, but I thought --- well... I better get used to it, because I knew long before he was killed that if anything ever happened to one of us, we were still married for time and all eternity.  We talked about it once, after a grand-parent had passed, when we were only  a few months into dating, and we both locked eyes, tears formed --- and we both said without saying it that we would wait... while our heads nodded in agreement.  It was too difficult even then to imagine life without one another, and six years later even more unbearable to fathom. 

I lived in a different town on a different shore of the island, only because I found a beautiful, safe place to live, and I know Frankie would have been adamant about me finding somewhere with a gated complex, security, a parking garage, and a dead-bolt lock; all on the highest floor, of course. 
He was always nervous about me being alone.  I have always been very independent, with a good head on my shoulders. I moved to New York at 17 just after graduating high school by myself, but Frankie never wanted anything to happen to me while he was away... I think it was his worst fear --- I know exactly how he felt.  

So here I was alone --- without Frankie --- but with him too.  With him in our love, and in our memories.  It was such a difficult time for me, but a beautiful time for me as well.  I learned so much more about how our love truly would never fade and how I know without a doubt that our marriage is eternal.  I learned that he is with me where ever I choose to take him.  I learned that my heart, though shattered at the thought of facing this life without him, would make it through, and that it was because of the gift of him that I am able to feel peaceful and somehow content at facing the deepest void a human being can possibly feel. I felt that peace almost immediately, and always in my darkest hours.

I learned that our love, our beautiful gift of love from God would always give me joy, and that I have so much to be thankful for.  So much beyond description really.  I learned I will take Frankie with me everywhere I go.  Any path I choose to take is mine for the taking, because I know he wants me to experience this life as fully as possible, and I know he will be waiting and preparing for my return, and then we will know true paradise and we will be home together forever.
And I know he will be proud that I did it by myself --- all alone....but not really. 

I am so in love with you Frankie.  I can't wait to take your love everywhere with me.

Frankie would have loved it here --- so I had to take a semi-illegal photo... :)



trav·el  (trvl)
v. trav·eled or trav·elled, trav·el·ing or trav·el·ling, trav·els
1. To go from one place to another, as on a trip; journey.
2. To go from place to place as a salesperson or agent.
3. To be transmitted, as light or sound; move or pass.
4. To advance or proceed.
5. To go about in the company of a particular group; associate: travels in wealthy circles.
6. To move along a course, as in a groove.
7. To admit of being transported without loss of quality; Some wines travel poorly.
8. Informal To move swiftly.

I could not have asked for better travel companions next to Frankie.  Traveling with a group of military widows is the way to go.  None of us take life for granted.  Somehow, we manage to brighten up every situation we are in, and people are drawn to us like bees to blooming flowers.  We make friends of complete strangers, and a night out on the town is spent taking in the sights and sounds and laughing out loud, and not wanting to waste a second of any day.  We are willing to take risks, and go our own way if something is not working.  Our love for our husbands pounds in our hearts and we know they are with us every step of the way.  
They are willing to listen to my millions of stories of Frankie and continue to ask more questions about him when others won't even mention his name. And, when we have those tender moments thinking about our loves, we know that shedding a few tears is good for the soul, and no one can quite grasp the immense pain behind those tears, besides each other. 
I am so thankful for making such great friends.  

I cannot wait for our next trip!  Somewhere warmer next time!  :)  

Funny Travel Story:

Me speaking to retried military man and wife on airplane after he noticed my bracelet,
I tell him about Frankie being killed. 
He asks me if I am dating again, or if it is too soon?

I say, No, and I know that I never will and that Frankie is still my husband and that death does not stop love.
Man looks skeptical.

Later in the conversation, I ask him if him and his wife have children after he asked me the same question... I answer the same way every time:  No, unfortunately.  They decided to never have any children. 
I tell him I got a fur baby. 
He brightens up all excited and says that they had the same dog for 18 years.  They rescued him, and he tells me he was the perfect dog.  He never bit, peed in the house, he loved people, and was like their child.  After losing him they knew that he could never be replaced because there could never be a more perfect dog.
They never even considered getting another pet. 

Me not being able to help myself say:   Sounds like me with my husband!  :)