Mark made the decision the day after his wife’s funeral. Within two weeks, he had sold the house and everything in it. His friends called a few times. A few even stopped by, but Mark was always out. They only discovered he no longer lived there when the new owners arrived a few weeks later.
Home had been whenever he was with Emma, so giving up the house was easy. Leaving his friends was a different matter. He debated for some time whether or not to let them convince him to stay, but he knew that whatever time he spent with them now would be overshadowed by the loss of his wife. They had all loved her too.
He wouldn’t trouble his children by becoming a dependent in their home. They were all grown and busy building their own families. The closest lived halfway across the country anyhow. He would still visit them from time to time.
This wasn’t some grand gesture, or him losing his mind to grief, though many might see it that way. He briefly troubled himself about how to break it to his friends, but realized that he didn’t have to. They each knew him well enough to know what he was doing. He was making this journey to discover not just new places but new versions of himself. He was no longer a married man. At least, not in this mortal plane.
The Mark who lived happily for 46 years, who created a family with two boys and three girls, and who worked 38 years for the same company was buried with his wife outside St. Paul, Nebraska. The Mark currently flying over the Pacific was someone new. He had no obligations to anyone or anything. He was just searching for his place in the world. Searching for who he would be without her. He was scared, but he was still alive and had to do something with the time he had left.