I never felt more alone than when I was in a room full of people I knew… after my husband died. You know when you go to a party with your husband, you walk in together and then you both wander off and talk to different people. You don’t stay together the whole time, but you know he’s there. You check back in throughout the evening. When you finish talking with one person you find him and stand next to him or talk with him. He’s yours. You always have someone to talk to because you have a husband. You’re not alone.

But after he died, I felt so alone when invited to a party. I rarely went those first few years when I was occasionally invited.

The walk into the party alone was the hardest walk of my life. The path up to the house, seeing people through the windows laughing and milling around and knowing I had to walk in there by myself, put on my happy face and in a relaxed manner start to make light conversation with others magnified my solitude. I was alone.

I remember once, actually not long ago, like honestly, I think it was last year, yeah, last year, I was invited to a party. When I got the invite I thought to myself, I’ve come so far in these past four years, I want to go, alone! So I rsvp’d with an affirmative. “Thank you for the invitation. Sounds fun. Looking forward to it!” My response will be seen by all invited on the evite, so be excited. I had come so far. Yeah, I’d come so far that as the day of the party arrived, I didn’t want to go anymore. Yep, back to that. Typical of me that every time I rsvp’d that I’d attend, when the day arrived I didn’t want to anymore.

Well, this time I decided to go even though I didn’t want to. But I decided something else. That if I didn’t feel comfortable or wasn’t having a good time that I wouldn’t stay. I didn’t have to please anyone but me. I decide when I leave. I don’t have to wait for my husband to be ready to go. I don’t have to stay to make others think I’m doing so well. I felt empowered telling myself that I would leave when I wanted to leave.

And would you believe I left 20 minutes after I arrived. I walked in, made small talk with a couple of people, and then I looked around and didn’t see any friends that I could walk up to easily and talk with, so I left. I felt a little foolish walking back out the front door without saying goodbye to the hostess, but I did it. I thought it would be the walk of shame. Look at her unable to manage a party. It’s been four years, get over it already. But instead it was the walk of empowerment. I walked right back out the front door, as the party was just revving up, with my head held high. I walked down the front walkway with a bounce in my step. I climbed right back in my car, my seat still warm, as I recall or maybe I just want to say that to emphasize how short a time I stayed. And I didn’t feel so all alone in that moment. I had me. I was looking forward to going home and spending the evening with me. Maybe even having over some company, my good friends Ben and Jerry.