It’s only penciled in, but it may as well be chiseled in stone. I am finally going back to Europe. When I touch down in London, it will be a few weeks shy of one year since I visited England, France and Belgium with Laura. It will be almost exactly the itinerary we we followed when she contracted the pancreatitis that, three months later, took her life.
It’s true that I canceled a number of trips this year in the wake of Laura’s passing, but I have not intentionally avoided Europe. Fact is, London and Paris are two of my favorite places – and I look forward to seeing these beautiful cities lit up for the Christmas season.
This time around will be weird, though. For one thing, I’ll be traveling with a new set of international companions. Tim and Deb both have “toured” with me before, with and without Laura. But never on a complicated three-countries-in-three-days sorta run. For another, this time out, I will be the guide, not the tourist, of the group. I’ve been to London enough over the past two years to qualify for the UK’s version of “trusted traveler” (a real time-saver at Customs). I have my own Oyster card, and I’ve got the buses and relevant tube routes down pat.
One thing I won’t be doing is staying at London’s Sherlock Holmes hotel on Baker Street.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great hotel. I’ve been a guest there several times. And, most important, they were amazing last winter when Laura’s hospitalization led to me staying over. But that place was Laura’s pick (she LOVED all things Sherlock). I think it would be best for Tim, Deb and me to walk our own path.
It’s a major step toward me walking MY own path.
It’s taken me a few months to come to this, but I’ve finally realized that the path I’ve walked for the past nine or 10 months is not my own. I have been so concerned with “that’s what Laura wanted” and “that’s how Laura would do it” that I lost sight of “that’s how Jeff would do it.” To be honest, that lack of vision (and action) has been pretty obvious.
I’m not trying to pass the buck for my many mistakes. Quite the contrary. I’m trying to own up to them.
Look, I’m not honoring Laura’s memory – I’m certainly not ensuring her legacy – when I shirk responsibility in the name of what I think she might have wanted. When I constantly second-guess myself asking WWLD, all I’m really doing is sharing the blame when things don’t work out. I mean, it’s not like she actually gets a say anymore, let alone a vote. It doesn’t matter that I know where Laura probably stood on most of the issues I now deal with. What matters is that where she might stand, maybe, becomes less and less likely every day.
The company was 50 percent Laura’s vision. Was.
Today, it falls to me. It’s time I stepped up.