5/9/13: LESSONS LEARNED

Hard to miss the fact that today marks one year since L’s death. Friends have been overwhelmingly concerned and supportive as the day approached–today there have been calls and cards and wonderful vibes of their love and support surrounding me.

Last night I found myself reliving those final hours and counting my blessings that I was with him and that it was just the two of us at home as he had always wanted. He was so afraid that he would die in hospital–he hated that idea.

I also found myself looking back over this last year and realizing how I have found my way–sometimes with sadness and even anger; most times with the assurance that I was moving forward as L had wanted me to–that I honor his life by moving on with mine. At the same time I know that I have more “promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep” on this journey. In some ways marking this anniversary makes tomorrow feel like a new beginning–a second year–perhaps a little like the freshman in college feels having completed that first year and moving on feeling more experienced and equipped to handle what may come..  There are–I am certain– many more lessons to be learned, many more tests to be endured, many more slips and slides that will make me cringe. The one thing I know for sure is that L has kept his promise to be there with me every step of the way. I feel his presence, hear his laughter as well as his concern with every decision I make. And with that in mind I look back on a year that has gone by with excruciating slowness and at the same time seems impossible to believe. Wasn’t it just yesterday???

Here are a few of the lessons I learned on my journey–year one:

  • The need to fill in the time gaps—times when I would have been doing something with/for L—planning dinner, watching TV, going to doctor appointments, picking up meds, setting up social dates, working on newsletter for his volunteer work, talking, laughing—even arguing. Hours and hours every day that were suddenly empty and without purpose.
  • The disbelief lingered all year—there are still days when I am in the middle of something and I simply cannot believe that he is never coming back.
  • The restructuring—of the rooms in the house, of plans for each day-week-month, of relationships suddenly shifted by the absence of L.
  • The loss of self-identity—who am I now? (That’s actually the title of a song added to the film: FUNNY GIRL!) Who will I become? How will I achieve that?
  • The surprises – travel held little appeal; buying the place in Florida felt incredibly “right”; the fact that I could continue to work—lose myself in the stories and characters for hours each day was a surprise and a blessing.
  • The physical worries—what if something happened? How would EMTs get in? Who would they call? The weight gain. The disinterest in eating and so the improper diet. (Plan for start of year 2 = health/weight.)
  • The friends—who was there throughout the year—and who was not. The wonderful gifts of friendships that blossomed where they had been only buds before.
  • The ongoing confusion about how I was “supposed” to feel–was I grieving enough? There was always a bit of “survivor” guilt going on and it does linger.
  • How to explain that although I am doing “fine” I am still a work in progress and what is “fine” today may have shattered by tomorrow. A pronouncement of some future plan or intent made today may be taken back tomorrow or next week.
  • The connection to others through this blog and in books and in real life. The comfort of knowing that there is no formula–no right or wrong–for finding the road through grief.
  • The acceptance that for decades I have lived in a couples world and while those ties are strong and unbreakable, the fact remains that I need to find ways to broaden my world–to do the very thing that L feared I would not do: reach out to others.

With so much yet to do–I suspect that the entries to this blog will be ever less prolific–but I will continue to record the journey and I hope that it will continue to comfort and support.

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3 thoughts on “5/9/13: LESSONS LEARNED

  1. Two months and two days… I googled “widowhood” and found your blog. After reading a small portion, I know I am not alone in sorting through life without my husband. Thank you

    1. Helen, I won’t say that it will get any easier but you will have better days and eventually more of them than painful ones. Thank you for writing. I am on my way to a cabin on Lake Michigan for what my friend calls my “vision quest” as I begin year two of this life where half of me is missing. Take care. Anna

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