I am back in Florida now. The arrival was chaotic–could not get into the apartment and had to call a locksmith–on a Sunday. Then the car that was scheduled to arrive Tuesday at the latest did not arrive until Thursday. It wasn’t so much the extra days in transit that bothered me but rather the fact that the company did not answer my calls (voicemails) or let me know there had been a delay. And I kept thinking that this is something L would have handled brilliantly while I was a basket case. But by the end of last week everything was in place and this piece of the journey began in earnest on the anniversary of L’s death…six months…half a year…seems like yesterday…seems like a lifetime…seems impossible.
The issues here are no different than they were back home. The days are filled with activity and work but it’s the evenings–dinnertime and beyond–when the loneliness settles over me like a fog. I try to take a long walk every day and get to the beach to walk at least several times a week. I find myself thinking about a variety of things. Yesterday I was thinking about L’s aversion to the use of the term “lost” to refer to a death. But it occurred to me that it’s not the person who died who is “lost” but rather those left behind. I am the one who is lost–wandering around trying to determine who I am now that half of me is missing (yes, I know I’ve said that before).
And as I wrestle with what this me-without-L will look like and sound like and act like, I realize that I have this unique opportunity. For years now I have been in what a friend (whose husband also died following a long illness) calls ‘caregiving mode.’ AND, she pointed out it didn’t just extend to L–it was the way I dealt with everyone–acquiescing to their wishes, their needs, their preferences. In truth there rarely seemed to be anything I felt it worth standing my ground for (with the notable exception of how I wished to handle my b’day–but that’s a whole other story). Every day was a struggle to try and make life as good as possible for L, to keep family and friends engaged in the loop and to try and maintain my sanity in the process. But now I have this unique opportunity to turn my attention to me–my needs, my preferences, my new self.
Even as I write this that sounds incredibly self-centered and yet I cannot deny that if there is anything positive in all of this–it is the sense of freedom I feel–the sense that I am free to do and be anything I want. Little things like eating when and what I want, staying up all night or going to bed at seven, choosing what TV shows to watch (or not), what films or plays to see. Do NOT misread this–L was nowhere close to a controlling man–definitely not a my way or the highway kind of guy. He was always focused on others but what I have realized is that the logistics of being a couple is based on consideration of the partner’s needs and wishes. Now that I am single, the rule no longer applies. And that in its way is a small miniscule positive in a sea of negatives that go with missing the one person you built your life around and with–but it is a positive and I can maybe find a way to nurture that…and myself.