It has been some time since I wrote on this blog and much has happened. I was in Florida for the winter–something I had promised L I would do although the idea of being there without him (in spite of a host of caring friends there as well as here in Wisconsin) made me hesitatnt to commit to a time frame for being there. Still there’s something to be said for taking next steps in life by walking on a beach rather than trying to plow through snow.
The first surprise came in the form of the people down there– another widow who I have admired greatly but known only slightly agreed to have dinner with me and talk about her experiences now that she’s several years out from the actual death of her husband. He–like L–suffered for several years and my friend was cast in the role of caregiver as was I. We talked at length and I learned that much of what I have experienced was similar to what she had gone through. Following that dinner we went to a couple of movies together and in general connected on a level we had not known before. And I knew that L would be so pleased because he admired and respected her so very much.
The second surprise came in the form of “the guys”–men L used to talk sports with and watch games with started sending me e-mails to comment on a game or player. Their respect for my sports knowledge touched me greatly and the fact that these male friends that I had counted as much mine as L’s did not feel the need to stay away was so very touching.
The third surprise was the biggie–always before he died L would ask me several times a week to talk about what I was going to do once he was gone. We both thought that I would travel because our ability to travel–which we both loved–had been so compromised by his illness. I came to Florida with the idea that I would use the time there to plan a trip or two. There’s a couple I’ve gotten to know who run small group tours to Europe and I had for many years longed to take one of those. Imagine my surprise when I realized that–for now–I have zero interest in traveling.
But that’s not the surprise–the surprise came when I went to look at a condo thinking I was looking at it for my sister and her husband and realizing that as I stood in that space with light streaming through the many windows that I could see ME living there and I felt such a sense of peace and happiness as I had not felt since L died. Things did not go smoothly and yet I felt L with me–prodding me to see this adventure through–every step of the way. All along I kept it quiet from my friends but sought the advice of professional friends–my banker, tax accountant, a real estate attorney in Florida and a friend whose business is buying (and reselling) property. With their support and encouragement and that of my family I moved (make that inched) closer and closer until on March 12th, I found myself the owner of a FL condo–a second home–an investment property that will hopefully bring me years of that same feeling of peace and happiness.
I am well aware that most in my position cannot salve their grief by buying a 2nd home–that is not the point. What happened here was that something moved me in a new direction — I turned a corner and I saw before me the possibility that once I turn dozens and perhaps thousands of corners I will find my way. Now that I am back home in Wisconsin, I will admit that there has been a sense of letdown–the excitement and angst of that adventure in Florida is over for the time being. I have a lot of work to do, deadlines to meet, etc. What has not changed is that time of day–right around now at six or seven in the evening–when I have to face yet again the fact that he is not going to be there to watch the TV shows tonight, to talk about the news of the day…to ask me what I plan to do once he’s gone…