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"Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right..."
('Here Comes the Sun' The Beatles - 1969)
Having first sensed the faint rays from the light of acceptance a month or so ago, I have since, dared to venture into the full glare of the sunshine of life once again. It is refreshing to feel the warmth of the many beams it provides. For sure it is a far cry from the dark places grief can lead us, altho there are some areas even this sunshine has a difficult time affecting. That this would ever happen for me has been in doubt at various times along this journey. It is definitely something that was difficult to envision in the early times after that long day and night in November 2011, the time that DJ died. In those times, the sheer weight of what had taken place was so overwhelming. Somehow we managed to do the necessities, make the best decisions, attempt to honor her last wishes which were modest, to say the least; a request that me and our children say something special we remembered about her, have white official cars, and to have her driven by our house one last time. These things were done, all but me speaking; I decided not to, not for fear of losing control of my emotions, but because there were so many things which I remembered that were special, that I decided to offer a suitable passage, related to something only her and I are aware of, placed in the obituary, a few lines from Ecclesiastes 3:1, normally ascribed to King Solomon, as found in the King James Version (1611) of the Bible. It spoke for me and said exactly how i was trying to view the entire circumstance.
The time after those traditional services and all the associated formalities were, internally, a turbulent one; the early throes of grief finding me and dealing powerful blows of shock, disbelief, unimaginable heartache and the most devastating of all senses of loneliness and abandonment. I struggled to gain some direction, some understanding of just where the hell I was...then, that soon after, it was a losing battle as I often ended up burying my head in a pillow and crying. At first, I was in a panic, being only able to recall those last few days of DJ's life...that time when as I watched, she appeared to be sleeping peacefully, but then awake and in an barely audible tone say my name...with me being there all along, whispering halting words of assurance and encouragement. Later as DJ began to fully return to my memory, and I was able to at least understand that the process of grief had to be dealt with, I began attempts to see just what was to be done. In my first early attempts, I signed up for grief counseling sessions and even went to a one to one encounter............once. This helped some, but something was lacking and I could not identify it. As I would come to find, it was not a single definitive thing, but a combination of many, seemingly unassociated things. But I realized it started with the obvious; missing her physical presence, and that leading me to understand that with that, was lacking that deep emotional bond we had enjoyed, that personal intimacy.
That I missed her physical presence was obvious to me at once, naturally, bringing with that understanding of missing her, the thoughts regarding the loss of that physical contact and the intimacy we shared. I recall how in the first weeks after, my eyes had been drawn to females, any females, how my reaction to DJ's absence had caused all manner of a heightened sense of physical longing ...or maybe it was just pure lust. How, during this time I struggled with feelings of doubt about being alone for the rest of whatever time I have, and even tinges of guilt about even thinking about being with someone else. Soon, I realized that I would have to find a safe place in my mind for the memories of DJ, or I would not survive her loss. This realization began as a mere hint, but as the totality of all the ramifications associated with it became clearer, the full impact struck, and I was left floundering; of all the things I thought I knew, I knew for sure, at that point that I had no immediate answer for this notion of regaining, or even considering being with someone else; and truly did not understand the true implications of all that is involved with this idea of this new loneliness imposed upon me. At about one month, in an effort to address this I began going to church with my daughter and eventually considered the local Amen Corner...there was a widows group there and perhaps... I went to the local library and found there was a local widowed persons group there, I joined it and met with them on the Thursday of each week. Both attempts were disappointing, but only because I was unprepared I believe; I had not started to actively grieve, not yet; but also, I was attempting to wrap all my concerns, doubt, fears and bewilderment into one neat package and deal with it all it once, I failed miserably.
During some of our more serious talks, DJ had insisted that I find someone to be with and to ''take care of me''; I let her say what she needed to and I responded with ''...how can I be with someone else after having had the best?...'' ...it was not an evasion, that was what I actually thought, and still think. Now that I feel fully open to the idea of having someone else in my life, I think about those words and how they square with my current feelings about this different life. I imagine I could play mind games with semantics to try and justify them, but I don't believe that is necessary. Actually those words were valid then and are now, all on their own; and as I re-read the words, I realized that it is a question and not a declaration. How do any of us move forward with the idea of another person in our lives after having had such deep and rewarding personal relationships, forged over time and common experience? I'm sure it's a question we all face at one point or another, with the way we deal with it varying for each of us. Finding a glimmer of acceptance has required that I try and face this in the same manner I have tried to face the other challenges of grief, with honesty, open-ness and willing-ness the difference being that for me, this is the hardest because it deals with what I believe is the greatest thing for any of us to overcome, that damn loneliness. We find it is more than missing physical human contact; it is deeper than that. Tho no doubt we enjoyed the experience of that contact with our partners, what really is apparent is that there is a much deeper connection...intimacy is as good a word as any to describe for me. Having known it, or at least our version of it, I was desperate to have it once again, but without a clue as to how to achieve that. Having failed in those early attempts, I sat it aside and continued to deal with issues about which I felt I could have some degree of more immediate success. So, after the months of examining memories, exploring the many feelings associated with our lives together, thinking over about, being weighed under by, and looking into the face of some of the real truths of that life together...and of course, myself, I arrive back to the question of being alone.
Being fortunate that my early rush to address this did not lead me to rush to the local red light district, but only to the conclusion that some in the Amen corner were high maintenance, and definitely out of my district, and most of the candidates of the Thursday meetings were a bit too cerebral for me, I am now trying to understand the frame work necessary for me to honestly approach and define for myself just how to deal with the challenge of meeting someone and seeing just how, what needs to develop for this to happen...actually does...I am confident that it is something I am interested in, how this all plays out may well be another story indeed. Starting with the notion that someone may actually give me the opportunity to see just how well I am, just how much of this acceptance I have really acheived. Again, we shall see.
For now I can only operate from the point of things I do know: having tried it over the last 10 months, I do know I do not like being alone; I know that the sense of early desperation can lead to false starts and to mental injury to both parties involved if one is not careful. It is important that I keep in mind that I am finding this almost an essential part of me as it probably is for most humans, this need to be with someone, to share with another. Of course there are those who can accommodate themselves to not having that close relationship again, I realize that I am not one of them; I know I have to deal with that reality honestly. I know that I have to recognize my limits in this area and proceed with caution, I have very little experience at this and the pitfalls are many. Age,monetary circumstance, and locations can present issues and have to be given all due consideration; but of all things, I know I must stay abreast of my mental bearings, no pun intended. This exercise will have to exist right along with my memories of DJ and all we had, whatever feelings I develop, whatever ideas I may have about how things should happen, going forward, it all will have to live comfortably in my mind with DJ and my entire life experience up to that point. For my own self, it will be interesting to see what adjustments have to be made and just how truly willing I am to make them.
I do not perceive this entire area of the process as any particularly good or bad item, merely another one of the many things that come to the fore as we travel through grief. The enormity of it, or lack thereof, appears to be left totally up to us, individually; just how much, if at all, are we willing to seek, and how much of an investment are we really prepared to make. For me, understanding that the loneliness has turned out to be the most difficult thing to adjust to has led me to the above conclusions. Matters of comparisons and replacement are foremost in my mind, ideas about ego, self esteem and true self integrity are being exaimined with all the frankness I can muster. It is understood by me that these are some of the most common barriers to solving the issue of loneliness and coming to once again enjoy a truly intimate relationship. Of course there are fears and doubts; it is human nature. My challenge is to not let them overshadow any honest approaches to the matter and to not sabotage my own efforts.
The sunshine of acceptance is indeed a fine thing, it is the goal I think we are all striving for...to once again feel the warming rays of life and the heat of passion from really living. To me, these things are good, and I want them, I feel I need them, but I also am finding that as much as I enjoy frolicking in this invigorating atmosphere and enjoying all the benefits it offers, I have no desire to dance in the sunshine alone. I may have company...signals have been exchanged, I have duly acknowledged them and replied in kind. As with the spring warmth which causes all manner of nature to erupt in renewal and growth, so the first rays of acceptance has prepared me to be open to the reception of such signals, and at least, feel comfortable in being able to intelligently respond. That this should be another widowed person comes as no surprise to me, some time ago, I determined that for me, any chances of success in this area would probably be with some who has experienced the deep sting of close personal loss. Now, where this will all lead is yet to be determined, but the first steps have been taken; years ago I read something that appears to be quite appropriate here, it stated simply, '' ...Success occurs when preparation greets opportunity...'' . Well, I have earnestly attempted to use the past months in an attempt to prepare for this different life, of that I am certain; I think I have been able to meet the opportunity to deal with difficult memories, the shortcomings I brought to the relationship with DJ, the true scope of my limits in many areas I once considered myself well versed in, and the notion that there could be a replacement for DJ, with all the honesty I could muster. I understand that this too, may be a false start, but at least at this point, I feel better equipped to deal with the many factors involved. That this may be too late or to soon is a concern for others, not me; some years ago, I was told it was too soon for DJ and I to be married, 40 years later as I sat, watching her die, I was able to be grateful for every day of those years and was glad I had treated such insinuations with the disdain I felt they merited..
So, the process continues, dealing with the ups and downs of grieving goes on...merely because I have gained some degree of acceptance and have decided that standing in the full glare of the sun with someone is where I want to be, does not erase the overall background sadness that pervades my life. It is a good thing that this sadness has a muted tone and it does allow me to focus on what is ahead in this different life. For me this has been one of the main points of my entire approach to this journey; to arrive at a place where the memory of DJ did not cause such deep pain, and that safe places could be found for her memory and that the memory of our life together which can be constantly celebrated in my mind, at a moment's notice and bring some joy instead of sorrow.
To me, it comes down to this; tho I will continue to grieve, I understand that I cannot live in a life filled with the constant pain of sad memories and events. My endeavor to find safe places for these things are my attempts to allow for moving forward in a different life. Hopefully my current sense of moderate peace will continue and at some point I will feel the full warmth of the sunshine of acceptance and dance unfettered by so much fear, uncertainty and doubt.
If good fortune continues, I won't be dancing alone.