My grandmother died in March. My mother died in March. As bad as those were, they don't hold a candle to my wife, Elaine, dying in March. I get to the end of February and wish I could go to bed and wake up and it's April 1. That's never going to happen, so I have to feel the pain. These last few years have taught me that the pain has to be felt, there is no way around it. There are self-destructive ways to mask the pain, but all that does is postpone it. The pain has to be felt in order to get through it.
I am not the same person I was five years ago. Losing a spouse that has been long loved changes who we are. I used to work in health care, but retired within a week of turning 62 last year, the earliest age to collect Social Security. For many years, if one of my patients died, I felt that it's too bad, but it was nobody I know. I don't mean to sound harsh, but working in health care, you have to have a certain emotional distance in order to survive. But after Elaine died, I knew that somebody was going to feel the pain that I do. That pain was hard to live with, but I had to suffer it in order to make a living. So the changes in our lives not only affect who we are, but the direction of our lives.
I am remarried, which brings its own challenges. Any marriage has its challenges. Being married later in life has more challenges. Being married to a widow has even more challenges. These can all be worked out, and life can be good. Maybe not easy, but good. When I lost Elaine, I didn't think I'd get married again, and I was fine with that. I was 58 at the time, and didn't think that there were any straight, single women close to my age who weren't psycho and were open to marriage. I was proven wrong.
A couple years ago, Elaine came to me in a dream. I came home from work, and didn't see Glory (current wife) and I called her name as I walked down the hall. The bedroom door opened, and Elaine was behind it and said "Who is this Glory you speak of?" with a laugh. Glory was sitting on the chaise lounge in our bedroom behind Elaine, and she was laughing too. They had been talking and having a good time together as if they'd been friends for years. Elaine told me "I like Glory and I'm glad you found each other." That was the last time Elaine came to me. She was telling me that she still loves me, she's happy for my new life, but it's time for her to bow out and let me get on with my new life.
I've posted every year on March 22, but this will probably be my last time. My life has settled into what it's going to be, so unless there is some big change related to being widowed, I won't have anything to add. The pain is still there. It's not the deep, searing, physical and emotional pain that it once was, but it's still there. I think of it as having a physical injury that heals, but leaves a scar. We can recover from the worst of the pain, but it leaves a scar on our souls. That is the price we pay for having loved, and the life Elaine and I shared is worth that price.