Christine Webber

I want to tell you about my friend Susie, and her adventure.  

Her husband fell ill some 15 years ago and finally died last year. During his period as an invalid, he rarely left the house and his whole life shrank alarmingly. Inevitably alas, so did hers.   

She loved him very much and never complained, but her experience will resonate with many of you if you have been the principal carer for your partner during a long terminal illness.  

Like many folk, it has taken my friend a while to even begin to think what she might do to open up her existence now he’s gone.

She had become so used to her shrunken lifestyle that she found it hard to contemplate doing anything differently. But now, 12 months or so after his death, she’s started to build a more sociable life for herself.   

In May, she met another widow at the local library book group. Over the weeks, they have struck up a genuine friendship.

This is what led to Susie’s recent adventure, which was to take an eight-mile trip by train to the town where the other lady’s house is, so they could have lunch together. And then, of course, she had to journey back.   

Now, that may not seem much of an adventure to you, but Susie hadn’t been on public transport for 16 years and to her it seemed like a very big deal.

In fact, she was so nervous she had a bit of a rehearsal the day before, which consisted of going to the station, learning how to work the ticket machines, checking the timetable and making sure there would be no strike action on the day itself.  

“There was a lot to think about,” she told me. 

I admire her hugely because this change to her routine took real courage.    

Lots of us have had to be brave in this way – either because of a bereavement or Covid, or both.

But no one I know who has made the necessary alterations to get their life back on track, has regretted it. Quite the reverse.

Susie, for example, tells me that she feels completely uplifted, and is now planning a trip to see friends who live 150 miles away. There will be no holding her now! 

She is not alone. Suddenly, this summer, loads of individuals who had been living in quite a sheltered and low-key way since March 2020, have made the decision to shake things up and be bolder.  

A near neighbour, whose firm have allowed him to work from home since the pandemic began, has now opted to go back into his London office two days a week. The change in him is remarkable.

He had been drifting around in tracksuit bottoms and only shaving occasionally, but when I saw him the other day, he was smartly dressed, clean shaven and walking with an evident sense of purpose.

We spoke briefly and he said he was thoroughly enjoying travelling into the capital and mentioned that after work on his office days, he often stayed late in town, catching up with friends and the theatre. It was clear that he was thrilled to have more variety and stimulus in his schedule.  

A former colleague of mine has also begun to venture further afield; for the first time since all the lockdowns, she has been to see her grandchildren in the west country.

She had, over all those months, convinced herself she could keep in touch with family perfectly well by Zooming or Facetiming with them.

But when she returned home yesterday, she rang to tell me that actually being with these children and enjoying going with them to swim at the local pool and kick a ball around in the park and exchange lots of loving hugs, had pepped her up no end. “It’s the biggest tonic I can remember,” she said.  

Someone else I know who had been doing all her shopping online for over three years, has started going into Norwich to shop early on a Saturday morning when everything is quiet.

Last week she went into a department store and bought new storage jars for her kitchen. She found she loved being able to talk to the assistant and to see, and touch, the goods she was buying. She was so cheered up by the whole experience that she now plans to cut right back on internet purchases, 

All these people have had to step right outside their comfort zones, and it has taken a lot of effort. But they’re all glad that they did it.

So, if you realise that your life has become dull and limited, and a rather dilute version of what it used to be, why not follow their example and get out there and live a little more?  

Honestly, we should all do everything we can to stop our lifestyles from shrinking, because it’s very ageing.

Instead, let’s have some adventures, and loads more fun.