As I close in on 3 months since Bunny died it appears that I have broken ALL of the rules. Especially, you know, the overall Big Rule - Don't make any major decisions:
In other words, don't do anything at all. Just wake up every morning, do what you have done every day before your wife died, just without her. It's like being told to keep on dancing, but without your dance partner. "Don't make any major decisions", words I have heard over dinner tables, across phone lines, in emails and texts ... but I have to admit that the cautionary phrase absolutely never made sense to me.
All of these pearls of wisdom come from many, many people of all backgrounds, all well-meaning and likely with sincere concern for my well being. And I appreciate the advice and the people giving it. But I'm not really paying any attention to most of it.
I didn't "quit" my job, but I am retiring. But I was already planning on that before Bunny died. I have been very lucky to be in a position to be able to stop working a high-stress job that shortens my life span every day, so why would I keep on doing it? By Thanksgiving, I will be in the ranks of retired people, although it's likely that I will continue to consult for my company over at least the next two years, but on my schedule, when I feel like it, no pressure. Is it a The Rules no-no if you are doing what you and your spouse decided to do before she died? I'm not sure, I need an official ruling here ...
I started clearing stuff out of the house within days of Bunny's death. It gave me focus, made me accept the reality that she was not coming back.I'm not destroying pictures or loved belongings, but I am getting rid of clutter, junk, clothes that just never quite made it to the recycling center after she decided she didn't want them any longer. And her art work related equipment and supplies are truly just "stuff", I have no need for them, I'll never use them, most of it has no value to anyone other than Bunny and it takes up a bunch of space. But her finished work I'm keeping. So I started clearing right away ... I know, a major violation of The Rules ...
I have been in a developing relationship since about a month after Bunny passed away. I didn't expect it to happen, but it did. And I'm happy, actually happy, as compared to sorrowful and scared and lonely. My girlfriend (I can't believe that, at the age of 65, I'm calling someone my "girlfriend" ... isn't that for high school kids???) has also had more than her fair share of sorrow and scared and lonely, and she, too, is breaking The Rules. But we just don't care ... isn't that the joy of aging, to be able to do things that you wouldn't do when you were younger and supposedly "more responsible?" And we're happy together and in love. I can't imagine how "happy" and "in love" can be construed as bad things to be held aside until The Rules say it's okay to proceed ahead.
Naturally, being happy and in love, we want to be together (we live a fair distance apart, what is known as an LDR ... long distance relationship ... in today's new acronym-intensive world). Circumstances being what they are (too much detail to get into here and not necessary, either), it simply makes sense for me to go where my girlfriend (I'm starting to like using "my girlfriend", makes me feel good to say it and people will probably think it's cute that some old guy from Jersey is calling someone his "girlfriend) ... sorry, sometimes I get off on a tangent ... where my girlfriend lives. And yes, for all of The Rules people, we're each making sure the other person isn't a nut job or criminal. And actually, I might be willing to put up with some nuttiness or criminality, because she's darn attractive.
And finally, some good news for The Rules adherents out there: no major financial decisions are being made. Nothing getting sold, nothing getting purchased, no housing on the market, no joint bank accounts, no crazy stock transactions or 401K tomfoolery. Everybody in this new The Rules-breaking scenario is staying in their own corner when it comes to finances.
Does all of this mean that I'm done grieving? Hell, no, I still miss Bunny every single day, you don't spend 35 wonderful years with someone and just forget about that. But my new relationship includes our departed spouses, who we love and respect and talk about freely every day. It's one of the many things that brings us closer to each other without forgetting our past.
So I'm thinking that sticking to 1 out of 5 of The Rules at least shows some responsibility, right? Yeah, yeah, I know that 4 out of 5 is a little hard for The Rules lovers to swallow, but I am making a concession with #5. I'm going to load up my Rules-violating self and drive south with my dog ... I hear there is a happy woman there waiting for a The Rules breaking Jersey guy to move in, relax and ease his butt into retirement.