So I mentioned this before, I am starting to navigate my way through online dating. I find it amusing in a way at how behind I am even though I spend so much of my time building and recommending technology. But I guess much of this really comes down to the dating side of things. Sending messages to new people and even having a couple coffee dates with them. For the most part I try to avoid chatting too much about my wife, I figure it isn't fair to the person I may want to get involved with to start by spending all our time chatting about someone else. But there are those times when they ask and I respond.
Now before I dive too deep into that avenue, I noticed this week that I was at an office function and during the reception after it, I was chatting with someone. They asked me some questions about how long I had been with the organization and where I had been working before. I mentioned that I was familiar with the line of work i was doing now, partially because it had aligned so well with what my wife had done for 23 years at her job. It is just so natural to bring this up and to talk about it before capturing that I was talking in a very present tense. Only once did I really call out that my wife had worked rather than was working. I walked away after that conversation thinking that I was likely going to have confused this person a bit if they later found out my wife had died over a year ago. I just don't know how to refer to my wife in these settings, she isn't my Ex-Wife, and there just doesn't seem to be a natural way of referring to her without opening up a can of worms I would rather not delve into. But my use of tense, which honestly has always been an issue for me, is likely going to just confuse people.
Getting back to my odd experience online and the fact that I recognize my poor choice of tense, I noticed another thing that got me all wound up the other day. In talking to one person I was thinking of meeting up with, she had said, based on a photo on my page, that clearly I must have loved my wife a lot. And this set my head spinning. Funny, a person who can't for the life of him keep tense straight in a message, got all wrapped around a pole over someone else's use of the past tense. I stopped myself from doing it, but my first impression was to send back the message, yes I still very much love my wife. Present tense, and it is true, just because she is gone didn't stop me from loving her.
I recognize again, that this is one of those boundaries that people step over without even thinking about it or meaning anything by it. It is a boundary that I am sure many of us have, and sometimes it is subconscious, lingering in the back of our mind. I am sure some, like I probably almost did, let it fire them up without knowing what it was about the message or the conversation that set them off. I know I have had a couple conversations with people where I walked away angry but I don't for the life of me know why. Such a minor thing, tense, and the person who said it was likely stating a level of awe at how much I clearly had that I no longer have without really meaning anything more than that.
As I continue to explore continuing my life on my own, and maybe some day with someone new, I think I will always struggle with this concept of tense, but I think it will also be me struggling with now. I find so often I am living in yesterday, and here when I say yesterday I really mean 2.5 years ago, before life took an evil turn. My mind just races back, I see her out of the corner of my eye, I long for her to be here, and sometimes I even expect her to be there. I catch myself when my next reflex is to call out to ask her to do something for me. I was in the basement sorting laundry the other day and almost called out to ask her to bring down her things, I was very tired having gone through an entire week where my insomnia got the best of me, but I don't think I can blame that alone. And so I also worry that tense is starting to hurt me in some ways. My failure to recognize that some things are in the past, may be slowing my personal progress and needed growth I will never forget or give up what my wife meant for me or still means to me, but living in yesterday isn't healthy and while I recognize that, I am not sure I am ready to do something about it.
And so, I will likely continue to give the stink eye to people who refer to my feelings as if they ceased because she died, and unfortunately, I will continue to spend at least some of my time, living like it was 2014 and we were still doing 14 mile hikes in Utah. Or 2016 and we were enjoying a long walk around the Statue of Liberty, but certainly not like 2017 Living a moment in the past isn't horrible, as long as I remember not to stay there.