Through Living we Remember

6 months have passed. 6 months that I felt would never pass yet 6 months that passed in an instant. Time has never felt more uncertain. I feel as if I am a recovering stroke victim. It wasn’t ischemia in a vessel in my brain but a schism in the nexus of my soul which impaired me. Rather than learning how to walk and talk again, I am learning how to live and feel again. I wake up thankful each day to be alive and thankful for my family, for Anne and for all I have, but I also recognize every day that half of me died 6 months ago today.

Anne asked me more than a few times if we would remember her if she passed away. “How could we not?” I would reply. Not only was she central to all our lives but we also believe we will be together again. Even when the pain, loneliness and loss have been replaced by the hope of being reunited as the defining trait of our feelings about her, she will be ever present in our hearts. I feel far from that future state. My emotions about Anne are complex and varied but still are mostly focused on what has been lost.

While dealing with that loss, the kids and I are putting together a second life. I am enjoying work. I have a fun and talented team and we are doing some interesting and audacious things. I am also getting myself into shape. The kids appear to be dealing with it in their own way. We each have bad days and you can tell when one of us is going through one, and needs some space or support.

Holidays, anniversaries and birthdays are especially hard. Rather than just treating them as normal holidays we are changing things up. On our anniversary I ran on the beach until I couldn’t take another step, happy to have the physical pain eclipse the emotional pain. I have not run like that in 20 years. For her birthday we looked at pictures and shared great memories of Anne. I anticipated Thanksgiving was going to be a hard holiday. It wouldn’t be hard because Anne loved it but rather because she hated it and nearly every year she would have me cook it. It wasn’t my favorite either but I was glad to create something out of the day. This year, rather than stick around and suffer through a bad Thanksgiving without her, we got out of Dodge.

The kids and I headed up the coast. Here we were, the 5 of us traveling again and it didn’t feel awkward, it felt right. It was a beautiful Thanksgiving morning and we were taking the long meandering trip along the coast on Highway 1.

Throwing rocks at the sun
I had driven that way a couple of times as a kid. I remembered the hippies in Big Sur, the opulence of Hearst Castle and the beauty of the area. It was time to share those experiences with the kids. We talked a little about Mom early on and decided to listen to one of her favorite books, “The Poisonwood Bible.” We listened and drove,. The winter sun crawled along behind us as we wound our way between the mountains and the sea. Listening to a book about Africa was a great way to remember our own month-long wondering journey around the southern part of the continent. It also is a great book to keep our own family’s personalities and trials in perspective. Although unconventional and crazy at times, the experiences we have shared have all ended up as positives in the end..

It was a unique Thanksgiving, we stopped to see and take pictures of the elephant seals. We were going to visit Hearst Castle but it was closed. We drove up to the gate and found it busy with Asian tourists taking pictures of the castle in the distance. As the sun went lower on the horizon we stopped the car 7 or 8 times to get pictures of an ever increasingly spectacular sunset.

I don’t know if Anne was there with us, I like to think she was, at least for part of it. When the sun went down we decided to leave the coast and head to San Jose where we were staying the night in hopes of finding a place to eat Thanksgiving dinner.

We found a group of restaurants which we thought would be open that night. When we arrived in San Jose the streets were deserted and the first 3 restaurants we visited were closed. I started to get worried that we might be having gas station food for dinner. That was not a tradition I wanted to start. Fortunately we found a family style Japanese place. In an odd sense of irony we had what Anne would have thought was our best Thanksgiving meal ever.

The rest of the weekend was wonderful. A friend of mine took us to the best Dim Sum place in San Francisco and the Asian Art Museum. We met another friend at Muir Woods and took the night Alcatraz tour and cruise. The 5 of us found ways to make our 2 queen bed hotel room work and for a brief moment we remembered we were a traveling family once again.

Fortunately there is still much of the world we haven’t explored, even parts that are within a day’s drive. There is also a lot of living we will need to do. With each step of each journey and over the course of each day we remember and celebrate Anne; Anne, who pushed us to explore new lands, read great books, and enjoy the company of amazing people, “how can we not?”

19 thoughts on “Through Living we Remember

  1. Hey Tom,

    What a great post. I know you guys are still struggling through the first year but things will get better. I think Anne will become a driving force to get you guys travelling again. The way you describe it, it’d be hard to keep your family away from experiencing the world.

    And also, being in the West part of the country.. there are SOOO many beautiful places to go and reflect on things. I wish you the best of luck and always look forward to new posts. I can’t wait to see you guys in the world again. :)


  2. What a wonderful way to embrace Anne’s spirit. I am so grateful for your example and pray for you constantly. I’m sure Anne looks down on you often with peace and love. She was worried about you and leaving you but I think right now she is just proud of who you are and what you are doing for your family. She will NEVER be forgotten and I’m guessing she sees that now and is happy to know that she is very loved and that we all are striving to be more like her. Love you Tommy and I really miss Anne.

  3. Tom,

    What a great way to remember Anne. Your journey has been tough and I thank you for sharing it with your friends like me who think about you and kids and hope you are doing ok. Your Thanksgiving sounds right out of a Mitch Albom book and I know that drive up Big Sur. It makes you inspired and humbled but the beauty of this planet and those we have around us.

    I hope we can catch up soon but in mean time have a great holiday and New Year.


  4. Here’s wishing you & the kids a peaceful & joyous holiday season.

    Hope to see you in 2013 – maybe some place remote like Costa Rica or Palau.

  5. That was a beautiful post and I’m better for reading it.
    Thank you for opening outward and sharing.
    You always inspire me Tom; you and your kids.
    Natalie and I are coming to LA for a few days,
    hope I get a chance to say hello.
    All the best.

  6. So sweet and wise as usual Tom, thanks for sharing!

    My heart goes out to all of you and I know your love, God’s embrace and the love that enfolds you from Anne on the other side, will get you through this very hard transition. Day by day.

    Happy to hear and see traveling adventures from the 5 in the world with an angel with them!

    Keeping all of you in our prayers and sending you blessings of peace this holiday season.

  7. Tom. Wrapping all of you in my arms and sending you hugs. I have such wonderful and warm memories of Anne from the ELNK days and her enormous smile and hugs when I’d see her with you at Christmas parties. No words I can say will take the pain away. Anne and my Mom passed within days of each other. Trust when I say Anne is in good company and we have two more Angels watching over us. An endless amount of love from me to you and the kids. Miss you my friend. You are on mind and in my thoughts regularly. Megan

  8. Hi Tom,

    I have just discovered your blog now. I am a mum of 2 young kids. I was just daydreaming and started searching ‘how much does it cost to travel for 1 year with a family of 4’ and found your blog…

    I am completely striken by your story and can’t beleive how incredibly intense these times must be for your family. Thanks for sharing, you are SO inspiring and so courageous.

    I look forward to reading more of your words and I have you and your family in my thoughts.

  9. Just stumbled across your website and blog this afternoon whilst starting to think of a round the world trip. Reading about you and your family has really moved me. I can’t imagine what the last year and a half have been like for you all, but what comes over is the energy and wisdom and lack of self-pity. I do know that Anne will live on in all of your hearts.

    Carpe diem from a rainy Birmingham, England.

  10. Hi Tom –

    Beautiful post! Your family remains in my thoughts. Take care as you continue to feel your way into 2013.

    Best Regards,


  11. I remember her constantly and am missing her today. I can’t believe it has been 9 months and we’ve welcomed yet another season. Love you

  12. tom, i began reading your site years before we embarked on our rtw journey. yours is the first site i fell in love with, mostly because of your modesty and honesty, and because of the very clearly beautiful bond you and Anne shared, and share still. thank you for sharing this, every part of it. i’m sitting here crying, wishing i could somehow fill that aching pain and knowing full well that only your relationship with Anne, and your kids, and God and Father Time will. God Bless you and thank you soooo much. Yours, Gabi

  13. Pingback: How To Afford RTW Travel Transportation for Long-Term Family World Travel? | The Nomadic Family Travel Blog

  14. I just happened upon this website as we are starting a family of our own and hope to travel and share the world with our little one. I am in tears reading, knowing you are approaching the one year anniversary of the loss of Anne but let me say what an amazing life you all have and what a beautiful family… Its inspiring. Keep traveling!

    All the best,

  15. I am saddened to hear that the posts are coming to an end, but I can understand that it may be the best thing to do. I have followed your family’s journey through the wonderful times of Oprah and travelling the world, to the darker times without your lovely Anne. I’m sure there will be many people like myself who will forever keep your family in our prayers and hope that you move towards a life of peace and happiness always.

    I look forward to reading the remaining posts. Safe travels in Japan!

    …and as the post previous to this one states – to us you truly will always be Six

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