Living alone without Tony, I need privacy to cry

I have made my first trip alone, in contrast to simply travelling alone. When I was writing my doctorate I travelled widely through the Czech Republic and Poland. I was confident and happy to be on my own.

Now is very different.

Then I was going home to my husband. Each day I was away he was at the end of the telephone wanting to know how I was and how my research was going.

Travelling to Orkney to scatter Tony’s ashes and to try and learn how to eat and sleep again, I no longer have that same level of confidence. Perhaps this is natural after the loss of Tony, but I feel I have “widow” stamped through me like Blackpool rock. There for everyone to see. I am shaky and do not know how to settle into this new reality – the black rings and bags under my eyes testimony to my misery. I find it difficult to look people in the eye. I am afraid of finding sympathy there.

I need privacy to cry.

Steph Booth travelled to Orkney to scatter her husband Tony’s ashes
Steph Booth travelled to Orkney to scatter her husband Tony’s ashes

Orkney is somewhere I have always wanted to visit. A land of myths and legends and ancient people. Tony was usually happy to go along with my travel suggestions, but on this one he was adamant. There was absolutely no way on this earth he was ever going to Orkney. I tried pointing out, to no avail, we had been to Copenhagen for a long weekend – and that was even further north.

Allegedly, that was different. No matter how cold, Copenhagen is still a sophisticated metropolis, not a wind-blasted rock in the North Sea.

When Tony and I were in Copenhagen we took a train journey north to the Old Viking capital, Roskilde. There was, of course, a Viking museum. As museums go it was fine, if you like that sort of thing. And Tony did. My feeling is, if you have seen one Viking long boat then you have essentially seen them all. I dutifully trailed around allowing myself to be educated. As we were coming to the end of the exhibitions I noticed something that made my heart sink to my boots. Oh no, no, please no.

I immediately engaged Tony in earnest conversation about how far the Vikings had travelled. Why, they even made it to Dublin. Perhaps, he was right and his Irish forefathers were descended from Vikings? My sudden animation on the subject made Tony immediately suspicious. What was I trying to hide?

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