The other day I had coffee with a couple of friends. This is something we do about once a week or so. Sometimes when I go for these meetings I approach it as simply something on my schedule for the day. The truth is that I am jealous of my friends–that they still have life partners and they have children and grandchildren and they approach the coming holidays with plans for large family gatherings and a reason to fix a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. The truth is I miss that and although I get invited to more than one turkey dinner each year it’s not the same…it can never again be the same.
Oh, there is much I can replicate–I can make the dinner with all the trimmings and I can usually find someone to share it with but without L teasing me about my need to make sure the TV is tuned to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and my insistence that ‘that’ Santa is the real deal–without L to pass by the kitchen and praise the delicious smells coming from there– without L sitting beside me or across the table (even when someone else hosts the meal) giving me that smile and our special secret signal to say ‘I love you’ it is not and cannot be the same.
And the truth is that I am so very tired of realizing that, of knowing that I must find new ways and build new memories. And so my days come in three flavors: lousy, doing-the-best-I-can; and thankfully mostly ‘okay.’ And then when I walked out of that coffee meeting with my friends I felt something I so rarely feel: I felt good. I felt happy. I felt at peace with myself in this new world. Our meeting was nothing out of the ordinary–we discussed films and plays and books we’re reading. We solved most of the world’s problems. We laughed and shook our heads at the silly pettiness of much that goes on in politics. But there was something there because later when I mentioned it to my friends they had felt it as well.
So here’s what I’m thinking: I’m thinking there was a 4th person at that coffee and it was L reminding me that (as he so often said in life) “It is what it is” and opening my heart to the incredible gift of friends who care, share and are there.
It occurred to me the other day that this journey–like many journeys in life–is all about making choices. Each choice becomes its own destination–its own little postcard moment. Some of the choices are pretty routine–when to eat, what to eat, where to eat for example. When L was alive we sat at the dining room table (more spacious and a better view than our small kitchen table) every evening somewhere around six. The meal was well-rounded–meat (usually chicken), rice or potato, veggie, salad. If there was going to be dessert it came later as we watched TV. Up until about 2 yrs. ago L might have made the meal–when he retired (at age 50 because his health was beginning to fail even then) and I went to work (mostly for the health insurance) he made supper three nights a week. It was the only meal of the day we shared (altho he was dedicated to eating three well-rounded meals a day). Over supper we would talk about all the things that had happened that day–in the world, in the workplace, in the neighborhood, among friends, and most of all with us. We never ever lacked for conversation. Now that I am alone I find I need to make different choices. These days the dining room table is often covered with some project I’m working on–bills and bank statements and such that need attention; my latest writing project; lists I need to make to be sure I take care of everything now that he’s not here to remind me or handle it himself. So I don’t so much eat as I graze–a slice of cheese or some carrots with hummus, or a bowl of soup or sometimes something I pick up at the store. Blessedly I go out with friends at least once a week for a “real” meal. But altho I thought when this all began that eventually I would settle into some kind of routine for eating normal meals again, I can see that this is unlikely. The choice has been made–not the best choice perhaps but one that for now works for me.
But perhaps tonight was the most startling first of all when I realized that tonight I cooked the first “real” meal that I have prepared since L died. It was just some scrambled eggs, veggies and cheese but it is the first time I have cooked anything for myself. Either I eat out or I fix myself a bowl of cereal or cut some cheese and fruit, but I have not cooked anything for three months now. My appetite has been weak although I have lost zero weight–a clear indication that in ‘grazing’ and grabbing whatever strikes me at the moment I am not doing myself any favors. The truth is I like to cook–for others. But maybe I need to cook for me or lose the ability to make good food. L would definitely be upset with the way I’ve been eating–he wouldn’t say anything but oh, the looks he could give me!!
In another first I went to State Fair–a tradition we never missed even last summer when he was really struggling. I went with his sister and her dtr. and we had a good time but it was so very different and there was so much that L and I liked to do that I didn’t see mostly because as always I was trying to do whatever they wanted. I did have our traditional chocolate “nog” and a sample of maple cotton candy and a glass of “Herb’s” cherry vanilla milk. And I did ride the sky glider so not all was lost. And the bonus was that I felt closer to my sister-in-law and niece.
Tomorrow I transfer the first of the multiple IRAs–should be interesting — not sure of the best way to handle but I will explore options as I did with the CDs and then decide. Hopefully L will be there with me so I don’t make some huge mistake!!! And maybe afterwards I’ll go to the grocery store and instead of perusing the salad bar and hot food/deli selections I’ll buy some “real” food and come home and make dinner–just like I used to do.